St Mark's school boosts email management

Marshal products effectively block spam, says ICT manager

A Wellington school is claiming success from one of the first implementations in New Zealand of the latest versions of WebMarshal and MailMarshal.

St Mark’s School, which has 450 students, installed the software from Marshal Solutions in January, following problems with a previous system.

ICT manager Allan Griffin says the school previously used a Sonic Systems internet gateway firewall but this did not include the level of email security needed and did not allow the school to set policies for staff, teachers and students, who each had different email and web usage needs.

To solve the problem, the school installed SurfControl’s email security software in October 2007 as well as its web content security solution. But after Websense acquired SurfControl, Griffin says, the new organisation stopped supplying the SurfControl solution, preventing him from having his email and web solution from a single vendor.

He then approached Marshal to trial its email and internet security solutions — MailMarshal and WebMarshal. The vendor offered its products through its education programme for $2 per user, per product per year.

“The product has more functionality, far more options,” explains Griffin.

Installation of the software has everything on a default setting and the company documentation and a helpline makes for easy installation. It also allows the setting of policies, allowing classification of user access to email and certain websites, he says.

The software products block spam and viruses and contain many reporting tools and monitoring functions. Previously, about 5% of the school’s 200-300 spam emails would make their way into school inboxes, but now Griffin says none arrive. The system. he says, has performed well and also saves two hours of maintenance a week from its management tools. Bandwith consumption can be reviewed remotely as well as seeing if email and internet use is breaching school guidelines.

The only snag was the system needed SQL Server 2005 to operate, which meant approaching the Ministry of Education for a copy.

Griffin advises school IT bosses to aim for flexibility with email and web security solutions.

UK-based Websense spokeswoman Rebecca Zarkos says the company doesn’t comment on individual customers but Websense has been executing a “five-point pledge”, providing communication about end-of-sale news for products on the first day of the acquisition, and by supporting SurfControl Web Filter customers until at least 2011.

“We’ve provided multiple migration options for customers that choose to migrate from SurfControl Web Filter to Websense. For customers that have products branded both Websense and SurfControl, they are — following the close of the acquisition — working with one company, one vision and one team ready to support them,” she adds.

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