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SolarWinds Mail Assure – REVIEW 2019

Mail Assure from SolarWinds MSP is a multi-function tool which addresses most email security concerns of Managed Service Providers.

The tool offers email protection and archiving solutions that can help protect businesses from spam, viruses, phishing, malware, ransomware, and other email-borne threats, all at an affordable price. Mail Assure is designed to provide excellent email service stability and user experience. Today, we’ll be doing an in-depth functional review of this product.

We’ll start off by introducing SolarWinds MSP, the company that brought us this great product. We’ll then introduce Mail Assure itself and give you a brief overview of its abilities. Then, we’ll get deeper and describe in greater details many of the product’s features. As you’ll see, there are quite a few of them. We’ll then discuss the service’s infrastructure before presenting you some pros and cons that have been reported by users of the tool. And we’ll finish with some details about the tool’s licensing and pricing.

About SolarWinds MSP

SolarWinds MSP is a division of SolarWinds that specializes in tools for managed service providers. It was born from the union of SolarWinds, SolarWinds N-able, and LOGICnow, three major players on that market. As for SolarWinds, the company makes some of the best tools for system and network administration. Its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor, has received rave reviews and is considered to be one of the best network bandwidth monitoring tools. SolarWinds is also famous for its many free tools, each addressing a specific need of network or system administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator and the SolarWinds TFTP server are two excellent examples of these free tools.

SolarWinds MSP empowers IT service providers with technologies to fuel their success. Solutions that integrate layered security, collective intelligence, and smart automation—both on-premises and in the cloud, backed by actionable data insights, help IT service providers get the job done easier and faster. SolarWinds MSP helps its customers focus on what matters most—meeting their Service Level Agreements and delivering services efficiently and effectively.

Introducing SolarWinds Mail Assure

SolarWinds Mail Assure is a true multi-functional product that can address most—if not all—email security concerns. The tool primarily targets Managed Service Providers and it can help protect their client against spam, viruses, phishing, malware, ransomware, and other email-borne threats by using collective threat intelligence gathered from all Mail Assure customers. Its intelligent email protection engine is continuously updated with data about every threat detected in over 2 million secured domains spread over 85 countries. The service also features tamper-proof mail archiving, email continuity and complete support for Office 365 and Exchange from Microsoft. More about these features in a moment.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Email Protection

Mail Assure uses sophisticated threat detection methods to protect against all sorts of cyber threats. Its continuously updated Intelligent Protection and Filtering Engine checks every incoming, outgoing, and internal email. A threat identified in one mailbox updates the detection algorithms for all other users in near real-time, providing incredible protection for your clients, no matter where they are or what email service they use. In addition, the system’s email continuity feature lets users log in to a branded email portal, even if their core mail service fails, helping ensure uninterrupted productivity.

Mail Assure’s email archiving feature protects crucial information and intellectual property, and it helps ensure availability and chain-of-custody in the event of a legal proceeding. All inbound and outbound email and attachments are compressed and encrypted to provide a cloud-based impenetrable vault.

Exploring SolarWinds Mail Assure’s Features

Feature-wise, SolarWinds Mail Assure is a very complete product. Let’s have a deeper look at what each of the product’s main features has to offer. As you’re about to discover, there is more than meets the eye when you start digging.

Email Protection

Email is an essential component of professional communications. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most-used vectors of cyber attacks against enterprises. SolarWinds Mail Assure uses an advanced threat detection engine which is constantly updated with data obtained from over 10 million secured mailboxes in more than 85 countries. Suspicious emails or attachments detected in one corner of the world instantly update the threats database, thus providing an increased level of security to Mail Assure clients worldwide.

Threat Detection

Detecting threat before they even get to users is one of the most reliable ways to protect against them. Here’s how this tool can help.

Efficient Threat Detection

Mail Assure’s threat engine uses statistical algorithms to process and analyze results from SMTP behaviour, reputation checks, content checks, user data from quarantine management and several other filtering data. The threat engine is constantly updated ensuring you always get the most up-to-date protection.

Suspicious Attachment Blocking

The most dangerous files are often transmitted as attachments to messages. To protect against them, Mail Assure administrators can define exclusion rules based on file extension.

Undesirable Mail Reduction

Reducing—or even eliminating—undesirable emails such as spam and other junk is another important aspect of this product. It does it using four different techniques for the best results.

Email Fingerprinting

Mail Assure compares incoming messages to characteristics of undesirable mail messages to identify undesirable mail, phishing attempts and other malicious emails.

Advanced Analysis

The advanced analysis technology evaluates the authenticity of a message by analyzing headers, encoding, formatting and other features of emails that are typically hidden from users to try to determine who sent the email and how.

Real-time Message Source Analysis

Mail Assure constantly verifies trends and mail flow volume coming from the source messaging servers to detect if anyone is actively trying to send undesirable emails to the organization.

Abuse Management

Mail Assure includes full support for the Abuse Report Format (ARF – Standard IETF RFC 6650).

Easy Administration

Its one thing to have an efficient tool for protecting against threats but it should also be easy to manage. Here are a few features of the product that are instrumental in making it more manageable.

Blacklisting And Whitelisting

You may add email addresses to your own blacklists and whitelists to block or allow messages coming from specific senders.

Secure Cloud-based Email

All emails are remotely scanned in the cloud. This permits blocking undesirable messages and attachments even before they reach an organization’s internal network.

Email Archiving

Email archiving protects organizations against disputes and ensures that intellectual property stored in email is secure and easily retrievable. In addition, organizations in heavily regulated industries such as finance, medical, and legal are often required by law to keep copies of all their incoming, outgoing, and internal email communications. In the event of a legal dispute, keeping these copies of email files in a folder or in a backup solution isn’t enough. Legal procedures require a clear chain of custody if email evidence is to hold in courts. SolarWinds Mail Assure’s archive solution provides this chain, offering you security, compliance, and peace of mind.

SolarWinds Mail Assure Mail Archiving

Maximum Security

Secure off-site storage

Mail Assure stores archived email in the cloud, backing it up across multiple secure, geographically distributed data centers.

Security as a priority

The archive capability stores emails using AES encryption to protect them from prying eyes. Additionally, all transfers of messages in and out of the archive use Transport Layer Security (TLS) communication protocols for maximum security.

Tamper-proof

Mail Assure compresses emails when archiving them, electronically calculating a unique checksum that makes them tamper-proof. This verifies the authenticity of the emails, helping establish the integrity of messages within the archive.

Compliant

Archived messages are stored in multiple data centers either in North America or Europe, depending on the location of your company. This geographic clustering enables European customers to comply with EU-based regulations on message processing and storage.

Search And Retrieval

Search indexing

Mail Assure indexes content and attachments on demand, saving ingress time.

Logging

When messages are found, they can be exported or forwarded out of the archive as attachments. These activities are carefully logged, which helps to preserve the chain of custody and satisfy legal obligations.

Third-Party Integration

Office 365

Mail Assure’s cloud-based model allows it to add features to Microsoft’s online Office 365 service via a fully independent archive with message retention capabilities that can extend beyond Microsoft’s own.

Microsoft Exchange

Mail Assure also integrates easily with Microsoft Exchange, helping provide outstanding enhanced security, reliability, and performance for Exchange servers. It also supports SMTP journaling for all internal emails.

Compatibility with both cloud and on-premises archives

Mail Assure’s archive feature integrates with any on-premises or cloud-based email service including Gmail, Zimbra, Postfix, Exim, qmail, and Lotus.

Mailbox Continuity

For many organizations, a single missed email can mean the difference between taking advantage of or missing an important business opportunity. Your clients rely on you to keep email up and running. It is, therefore, critical that you have an email service you can count on. SolarWinds Mail Assure‘s cloud-based secure email gateway exists independently of an organization’s email systems, analyzing and filtering emails before they ever reach the primary mail servers. This allows users to access their email via Mail Assure‘s web portal even during an outage of the mail servers.

SolarWinds Mail Assure Mailbox Continuity

Support During Local Network Outages

Even if an on-premises mail server is working, various issues on local networks can cause problems and interfere with access to email. A cloud-based email continuity service protects email against any problems affecting the local infrastructure.

No Need For Expensive Fault-tolerant Hardware

On-premises systems need failover-capable hardware and multiple sites to be truly protected which can turn out to be costly. Because Mail Assure operates in the cloud, it eliminates that email infrastructure cost.

Lower Risk

By using an additional service provider to supplement the primary email service, you eliminate the risk of having a single point of failure.

Distributed Infrastructure

Mail Assure uses multiple distributed data centers around the world to process and queue emails and protect users from server or network outages.

Support For Office 365 and Exchange Server

When it comes to the integrity, availability, and security of email, relying on a single provider may not be such a good idea. With so many businesses using the cloud-based Office 365 or the on-premises Microsoft Exchange server, these services have now become key targets for cybercriminals. SolarWinds Mail Assure offers an extra layer of security to protect you against the hackers. On top of that, the tool’s web portal provides email continuity in case Office 365 or your Exchange suffers from an outage.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Office 365 Support

Enhanced Office 365 Protection

Deep defense

Mail Assure improves the default security in Office 365 via its sophisticated threat engine that is continuously updated using data from over 2 million secured domains around the world.

Improved spam protection

Boost your spam protection using SolarWinds’ spam filters that incorporate automated input from all users’ “train or release” determinations.

Scalability and security

The tool processes and stores all email at SolarWinds’ secure data centers located in four countries. This helps you meet regional regulations surrounding message storage locations.

Comprehensive storage

Deploying Mail Assure alongside Office 365 will help ensure that emails can always be stored regardless of space restrictions in Office 365.

Simple integration

Setup is a breeze. Office 365 users can start using Mail Assure by simply redirecting their MX records to SolarWinds’ systems.

Support for Microsoft Exchange

Improved continuity

Mail Assure provides a cloud-based interface for those running Microsoft Exchange. This allows users to continue sending and receiving email even if physical servers crash.

Capacity management

Email can take up a lot of space—not just from email volume, but also—and even more so—from the size of attachments. Adding a cloud-based solution such as Mail Assure helps ensure the live Exchange platform does not run out of space.

Better server performance

Mail Assure handles spam and malware filtering, freeing up resources on your Exchange email server.

Improved bandwidth and extended server life

By handling email processing using an external vendor, internet usage decreases and bandwidth and speed improves for the rest of the organization. And by keeping the processing load low, you’ll also increase the lifespan of your email servers.

Manage data

Transferring older data out of your live email environment to a service such as Mail Assure reduces the overall size of the Exchange information store, increasing your Exchange platform’s performance.

Predictable costs

Costs are linked to the number of mailboxes used. You pay only for what you need.

Service Infrastructure

A cloud-based messaging gateway service eliminates many costs, issues and complexities associated with on-premise messaging solutions, such as the configuration, the administration and the monitoring of secured messaging servers. SolarWinds Mail Assure does not replace your main mailbox. The solution offers a cloud-based complement to an organization’s messaging service, adding an extra layer of security and redundancy that modern organizations need.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Sservice Infrastructure

Reliability

Multiple data centers

Mail Assure’s off-site secured infrastructure uses several data centers to protect corporate messaging against threats and major outages.

Reliable infrastructure

Mail Assure’s network and software architecture have been designed for maximum efficiency and reliability. Multiple MX entries, redundant load balancers and fault-tolerant server clusters are used.

Easy configuration

Mail Assure makes the installation, the configuration the monitoring of a secure on-site messaging server easy.

Security

Secured access

The security of on-premise solutions depends on the physical security of the building where they are located. Mail Assure uses data centers with strict physical and virtual access control as well as several electronic means of preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the organization’s data.

Encryption

Mail Assure encrypts all its emails with 256 bits AES (Advanced Encryption Standards) encryption for static data et it uses the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol for data transfers.

Cost Effectiveness

Simple no-surprise billing

Mail Assure uses a simple and easy pricing structure, much more so than complex software license costs and unknown long-term hardware costs which are typical of on-premises solutions

Modular Functionality

New services (such as archiving functionalities) can easily be added at an easy-to-figure cost without requiring complex project management that would be needed for an on-premise environment.

Pros and Cons of SolarWinds Mail Assure

Here’s a summary of the main pros and cons of SolarWinds Mail Assure as reported by users of the platform and by other reviewers as well.

Pros

  • Despite the tool’s learning curve, you can configure the dashboard to suit your needs.

  • Very easy to use after initial configuration.

  • The overall filtering speed is quick and reliable

  • The product offers more flexibility as compared to other vendors.

  • Lots of available features, tools, reports and settings.

  • Support is brilliant and there is a very good knowledge base.

  • An efficient anti-spam product which also offers business continuity at an affordable price.

Cons

  • Some settings are hard to find.

  • The terminology used can be hard to follow.

  • It can take a while to find your way around the dashboard and to find the exact setting you’re looking for.

  • The console can be a little confusing for first-time users

  • There is no provision for multiple admins to access all the domains

  • Issues with Mail Assure have been reported to cause bounce backs to user’s clients.

  • Escalation on support calls is not fast enough when the SolarWinds engineering team has to participate

  • Some users have reported that the tool’s dashboard can be slow to respond.

Licensing and Pricing

SolarWinds Mail Assure is available as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS). The pricing structure is rather flexible and complex. You’ll need to contact SolarWinds’ sales to get a detailed quote matching your specific needs. If you want to give the platform a test-run, a free 30-day trial of the tool can be downloaded.

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