16 June 2015 - by Thom Hooker

Microsoft Office 365 + SMX: Have your cake and eat it

SMX CTO and co-founder, Thom HookerA rapidly growing number of small to mid-sized companies and organisations (SMEs) are choosing to move their in-house Microsoft Exchange servers to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. All good. But because Microsoft Office 365 offers email filtering as part of the package, the necessity of SMX in the Microsoft Office 365 space has been challenged. And that’s not so good.

Feedback from both customers and SMX resellers is that while Microsoft Office 365 is an otherwise excellent solution, email security is falling short. Spam and malware are hitting desktops. In response, our reseller partners are recommending SMX as a premium email filtering add-on to Microsoft Office 365 – and SMX has responded with a new process to make a Microsoft Office 365 + SMX solution fast and easy to implement.

See here for comments from CodeBlue on why they recommend SMX as a premium add on to Microsoft Office 365, and read why the YMCA has switched SMX back on after Microsoft Office 365 failed to protect their network from spam and malware.

The bottom line here is that if you're already using or considering a move to Microsoft Office 365, you can integrate the SMX cloud email security suite into your Microsoft Office 365 service quickly and easily for a modest additional cost.

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it. You can have New Zealand’s leading email filtering service and Microsoft Office 365. Our Microsoft Office 365 integration process is robust, technically sound and very fast and easy to implement. Through the Microsoft Office 365 administrator interface, admins can configure their Office 365 service to only receive email from SMX's IP ranges. This allows Office 365 customers to secure their email delivery path in the same manner as our customers who run their own MTA in-house. With this configuration in place customers can guarantee that only email that SMX has filtered is delivered to their Office 365 inbox.

This is not an attack on Microsoft. SMX's role is to make a good solution even better. Our email filtering service offerings provide something that Redmond can't: local presence. The fact that SMX operates New Zealand's leading cloud email security service, with physical presence in six local datacentres, means we get to see a uniquely New Zealand view of the spam and malware threat landscape. As such we're able to respond faster and more effectively to attacks targeting New Zealand organisations.

Our New Zealand-based support means we also answer the phone and respond to emails in the local time zone and we're also in constant contact with our two primary security vendors, Symantec and Cloudmark. With the close commercial relationships we have with these vendors we're able to hold their support teams to account, with escalation paths available as well. Compare SMX's dual vendor security model with Microsoft's, where they only have one (internal) vendor to seek assistance from.

Finally, SMX is a specialist email security vendor so our services are always going to be more precise and backed up with a deeper subject matter knowledge than a generalist provider such as Microsoft.

Our email filtering is based on a technology stack which is constantly changed and upgraded as new threats emerge. Emails are filtered here in New Zealand under local jurisdiction. We respond immediately to new threats and with our local service desk we can provide a fast response service which is very difficult for a global provider to emulate.

As has happened repeatedly in the past with Microsoft products, a vibrant ecosystem has evolved around Redmond's cloud offerings to enhance and improve their features and up-take. For instance, for many years prior to the arrival of Office 365, many Microsoft resellers and partners created great revenue streams around implementing, managing & supporting Microsoft's software products. Microsoft should be congratulated for fostering this ecosystem and it's only natural that Redmond's cloud offerings also create the same opportunities for their resellers and partners in the cloud computing era.

This is ‘co-opetition’ at work in the customers’ interest. All good.