Adventures of SpamHero

Jun 10

Cloud Based Spam Filtering

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It’s been way too long since the last post.  All I can say is that we’ve been very, very busy.  Of course, in this (and any) economy, busy is good.  Ok, here’s what we’ve been up to…

We are pleased to announce that we have completed the migration of all customers over to our new distributed cloud based spam filtering environment.  We always knew that this was the direction we wanted to go in, even before our service was launched.   However, since we are used to dealing with very reliable data centers, the first release of our service wasn’t cloud based and simply used relay servers as an emergency fallback.  The original system looked like this:

The location 2 and 3 servers were only engaged when there was a problem with location 1, which ensured that no email was ever lost.  However, since these locations only hosted relay servers, in the event of trouble they had to wait for the primary server at location 1 to come back online, which could cause email delays.

Our new distributed cloud filtering system resolves this problem:

Distributed Cloud Spam Filtering SystemThis configuration splits up incoming email for each domain between two totally separate data centers, using round robin DNS MX records for the primary MX record (“MX 1”).  In the event that one of these locations has trouble, the “MX 2” and “MX 3” records point directly to the two locations so that sending mail servers will always be able to find an available server to send to.   Since this design eliminates the need of relay servers, this eliminates most any threat of email delays. Yay! 🙂

Oh, and this setup only requires 3 MX records, but, we’ve added support for a fourth.  The fourth record will be used when we expand the distributed cloud to include three locations.  For now, the “MX 4” record mirrors “MX 1” but will later point to the third location.   To take advantage of the third location when it comes online, you will need to update your MX records according to the instructions now displayed on the Settings -> mail host page when you login to the SpamHero back office.

If this upgrade doesn’t look like that big of a deal, then perhaps it’s because the sketch above is a little too simplified.   This was a big project for us, and it held up a lot of other projects and upgrades that we’ve been anxious to get to.   For example, one upgrade it had held up was a speed increase for those users with very large quarantines… if you are one of those users, you’ll notice a huge speed increase there.

With this distributed cloud project out of the way, you should see a steady flow of improvements and new features again.   I’ll try to make mention of some of the more notable ones here as they are rolled out.

Mar 10

The Best Postini Alternative?

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We’ve seen a lot of people switching over from Postini to SpamHero as of late.  I don’t want to make this a list of things that are wrong with Postini, because that’s not our style.  So, instead, we asked people who made the switch to tell us what they like about SpamHero.  Here is what they said:

We are easy to reach.
Just click on chat, pick up the phone or drop us an email for immediate help during regular business hours.   Or, even during some “not so regular” business hours.  And we’re working on having around the clock support.

Our powerful user interface is easy to use and looks great.
Resellers who have switched over to our service are happy that they can offer their customers an interface that isn’t stale and clumsy looking.

We do an amazing job filtering spam.
This should probably go first, but I think people find the first two items so refreshing that it takes them a while to even notice that making the switch to SpamHero has reduced the amount of time they have to deal with missed spam.

We don’t lose good email.
When a Postini customer switches over, one of the first things they ask is whether they can view spam that was blocked.  And, yes, we do provide a message quarantine which I’m assuming is the similar to Postini’s message center.  Only ours is really pretty.  But, we don’t expect customers to have to spend much time there.  We only put spam in there.  The good stuff is delivered to the customer’s mail server.

We don’t charge a per mailbox fee.
A company with over 210 email boxes signed up the other day.  You can guess how happy they were to find us.

We listen to our customers.
A few customers told us that they’d like a report of spam that was blocked from their email boxes on a schedule of their choosing.  So we added the feature.

Instant setup.
You can literally have your account set up and filtering spam in the next five minutes.  Apparently, *ahem* elsewhere, you have to wait a few days.

I’ll probably come back and add to this list later.  In fact, if you’ve made the switch from Postini, we welcome your feedback.  Let us know why you made the switch and what you like best about our service.  Think of something we can do better?  Let us know… we’re listening.

Get a free test drive.
Or, if you are a current Postini user, and want to see for yourself, take a 30 day free test drive of our service.

Mar 10

Is Transparency a Super Power?

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I was talking to a potential customer the other day who admitted that before he called us, he was wondering if our company had died.  Why?  Because we had not posted anything on our blog recently.  Oops.

It was our intention to update this blog regularly, but as things got busy we forgot to make it a priority.  So, I am making a very late 2010 new year’s resolution to check in here at least once a month.  I’d like to say once per week, but we’ll see.  I’ve never been into blogging, and while I fire off dozens of emails every day, writing a blog entry is pretty intimidating to me because of the fact that whatever I say will get permanently indexed.  It’s feels like I’m writing in stone.  Oh well, based on how important it is for businesses to be as transparent as possible, I will try to get over this fear and just start posting.  If I get something wrong, I can always write a follow up article, right?

The other fear I have is that I’ll write something that will tip off our competition.   I know, I’m worrying way too much about this.  It’s not like the competition couldn’t learn anything they wanted about us by just signing up for an account with our service.  Besides, all our competition would need to do to find out what they need to work on would be to listen their own customers.   Right now most of our new customers are leaving competitors for our service.    These new customers are providing us with a lot of feedback about what they liked about the service they left and the things they didn’t like.  It is that feedback that is driving the continued development of our service.

In future posts, I will be writing about many of the existing features of our service, new features as they are released, and what features we are looking to add.    Right now, based on how little information we’ve posted on our site about all the great features of SpamHero, one might think invisibility was what we were looking to achieve here.   Although invisibility would be a pretty cool super power to have, it’s probably not the best business model.  Transparency sounds a little like invisibility, but comes closer to what we’re trying to achieve, so we’ll try to nurture that super power instead.    As always, I welcome your feedback.


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