One of my worries: our spam filtering in the future

March 30, 2014

I've mentioned in the past that we rely on a commercial anti-spam system for our spam filtering. What I haven't mentioned is that it isn't supported on and doesn't run on any version of Ubuntu after Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. 10.04 is now rather long in the tooth and with the impending release of Ubuntu 14.04 it will fall out of support in a bit over a year. This doesn't leave us completely up the creek, as the vendor supports Red Hat Enterprise 6, but it does raise a concern: is the vendor still actually interested in this product?

(It's not as if the vendor is deliberately ignoring Ubuntu; the most recent Linux distribution that the vendor supports was released in 2011 (and that's Debian 6).)

Since I do have this concern, every so often I get to worry about how we'd replace this commercial package (either because of the vendor effectively dropping it or because of licensing problems, which have been known to happen). Right now the commercial system has three great virtues: it works quite well, it doesn't require any administration, and it's basically a black box. I suppose that it doesn't really cost us any money is a fourth virtue.

(The university has a site license, the costs for which are covered by the central mail system.)

There are probably other commercial options, but I don't know how much they'd cost or how well they work, and the thought of trying to evaluate the alternatives fills me with dread. I know that there are free alternatives (for both anti-spam and anti-virus stuff) but I suspect that they are not hands free and automatically maintained black boxes and I don't know how well they work. Evaluating the free options would be somewhat less of a hassle than evaluating commercial options (with free options there is no wrestling with vendors) but it wouldn't be a picnic either.

One part of me thinks that I should spend some time on keeping current with at least the free options for anti-spam filtering, just so I can be prepared if the worst happens. Another part of me thinks that that's a lot of work with no immediate payoff (in fact that doing the work now is probably a complete waste of time) and that I should defer it until we know we need a different anti-spam system, if ever.

I don't have any answers right now, just worries. So there you go.

Written on 30 March 2014.
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Last modified: Sun Mar 30 02:26:21 2014
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