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"At American Abstract, we cannot afford down time. We must be able to access our records 24/7. Hardwyre is always there to support us in our time of need."

- Andrew Adkins
Vice President, American Abstract


Hardwyre recently partnered with Sendio, a hardware vendor that builds a 100% spam free e-mail appliance called the I.C.E. Box (Intercept, Confirm or Eliminate). This innovative appliance sits in front of the enterprise e-mail server and kills unwanted e-mails with Sender Address Verification (SAV). It accepts messages based on who sent them rather than relying on filters to reject unwanted messages.

We spoke with Nordina Lalmond, the Network Manager for Crews & Associates in Little Rock, who has used the Sendio I.C.E Box for more than 18 months and met with incredible success.  What follows is her story of how the I.C.E. Box restored a spam-ridden enterprise e-mail system as soon as it was installed, and saved her company an estimated $183,461 a year in lost worker productivity.

The Situation

Crews & Associates, Inc., a wholly owned, non-bank affiliate of First Security Bancorp, is at the heart of downtown Little Rock's bustling financial district.

As is the case with many mid-sized enterprises, Crews & Associates estimated 160+ employees were overwhelmed by spam e-mails. At the height of Crews & Associates' fight against spam, users were spending about 20 minutes a day sifting through and deleting junk mail from their inboxes. Not to mention the IT department's time – about four to five hours each week – dealing with the spam and adjusting the filters.

By this logic, 160 Crews & Associates' employees spent a total of 53 hours each day managing spam. If the average employee salary is $30,000 annually, Crews & Associates was spending an average of $764 per day, $3,822 per week, $15,288 per month and $183,461 per year on spam. These staggering hypothetical figures don't account for the IT department's time in the matter.

To help combat spam, the company had used filter-based systems but found they did a poor job of eliminating unwanted e-mails. Network Manager Ms. Nordina Lalmond said the particular Bayesian filter that Crews & Associates had used blocked spam well for the first few months. But as spammers became more creative with crafting e-mail subject lines to bypass spam filters, the volume of spam breaking through was so high that “the IT department couldn't handle it anymore.”

“People were constantly complaining about the high volume of spam,” Ms. Lalmond said.

Crews & Associates desperately needed a low-maintenance solution to eliminate costly unwanted e-mails.

The Solution

Ms. Lalmond had researched a variety of other software, hardware, offsite and onsite solutions for controlling spam beyond active management. Ultimately, Crews & Associates decided that an onsite management approach was the right fit for the company.

Then Ms. Lalmond learned about the I.C.E. Box from Sendio – an enterprise-class hardware device capable of processing millions of messages a day per server and preventing spam from reaching corporate e-mail servers. She liked that the I.C.E Box needed no spam filter because its Sender Address Verification (SAV) technology would keep unwanted messages from making it into her system. And she found Sendio's advertising claims – “100% spam free, no false positives, virtually no maintenance” – hard to resist.

Although the Sendio I.C.E. Box was more costly than filter options, Ms. Lalmond presented the Sendio product to the COO with the understanding that “some things are worth paying more for, and if the I.C.E Box works as advertised, it will be well worth the extra cost.”

After weighing the high cost of managing spam versus the cost of the Sendio appliance, Crews & Associates bought an I.C.E. Box. And because of the company's urgent need to stop the inflow of spam, they bypassed a test environment, coordinated with Sendio and installed the I.C.E. Box live.

The Results

Eighteen months have passed and Ms. Lalmond hasn't looked back at traditional e-mail filtering products. “It worked from the get-go,” Ms. Lalmond said about the instant effectiveness of the I.C.E. Box. Virtually no spam e-mail has made it through to her users' inboxes.  “It has just been a boon for us,” she said.

Here's how it works: When an e-mail comes into the I.C.E. Box, it is stored in a temporary folder. A challenge e-mail (Sender Address Verification) is sent back to the sender explaining this is the first time they have communicated with the Crews & Associates' recipient since the I.C.E. Box was installed. It asks the sender to simply reply to the challenge. When they do, their e-mail is added to the approved-sender list, and the original e-mail is sent forward.

The sender then receives a note thanking them for their participation, telling them that their original e-mail is being delivered, and that in the future they won't have to go through the challenge-and-response procedure. If no response is given within two weeks, the original e-mail is deleted. Crews & Associates' users can also pre-approve their contacts so they never have to go through the challenge-and-response process.

Ms. Lalmond said a few customers didn't respond to the SAV message – they were suspicious of it – while several others never received the SAV messages because they were tagged as spam. But on the whole, Ms. Lalmond said her users love the I.C.E. Box and that Crews & Associates' customers have responded positively to it.

“It's easy to use, too, and my users have readily accepted the I.C.E. Box,” she said about the less technical sales force demanding a simple e-mail solution that requires the least amount of mouse clicks possible to handle any given task.

And as the person managing the network, Ms. Lalmond loves that the I.C.E Box practically manages itself, freeing up her time to handle Crews & Associates' other IT needs.

“The I.C.E. Box is very user-friendly,” she said. “You can push it out to users to manage their own e-mail. It doesn't matter if it's text-based or picture-based – the I.C.E. Box blocks e-mail by address and not by keywords.”

Ms. Lalmond also appreciates the fast, receptive support staff at Sendio. During the first few months of using the I.C.E. Box, she kept a running list of features that she wanted to see on the appliance. She forwarded her list to Sendio and several of her suggestions have been added to the latest version of the I.C.E. Box; including new admin functions and the ability to globally block e-mail attachments by file names and extensions.

Additionally, Ms. Lalmond mentioned that Sendio was very easy to work with and extremely helpful in the setup process. In some cases she coordinated directly with the I.C.E. Box creator, who went out of his way to be helpful.

“Sendio has helped us in solving issues that aren't even related to the I.C.E. Box,” she said. “They're great at identifying and resolving problems, very responsive, available and receptive to requests.”

Given her tremendous success with the I.C.E. Box and the support staff at Sendio, Ms. Lalmond recommends the I.C.E. Box every chance she gets.

Hardwyre, Inc. a 804 Edgewood a Maumelle, AR 72113 a 501.851.2880 a info@hardwyre.com
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