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Locaweb Case Study

  1. Overview
  2. Profile
  3. Business Challenges
  4. The Cloudmark Solution
  5. Results

Overview

Customer

Locaweb

Industry

Brazilian and Latin American Internet service provider with over 250,000 customers

Business Challenges

  • Improve anti-spam effectiveness and deliverability of legitimate email
  • Transition from appliance-based and home grown solutions
  • Minimize engineering team’s time spent responding to customer email complaints

Cloudmark Solution

Deployed Cloudmark Authority as a plug-in to Postfix-based email gateway.

Benefits

  • Increased spam catch rate by over 12%
  • Decommissioned over time 9 appliances dedicated to email filtering
  • Dramatic reduction in email help desk calls

Profile

As a leading Hosting & Infrastructure Services Provider in Brazil and Latin America, Locaweb has grown dramatically since its inception 15 years ago. Today, Locaweb has approximately 250,000 customers and 24% of the hosting market, according to IDC. As its customer usage continued to expand, Locaweb was housing in excess of 25,000 servers. To sustain its productivity, customer satisfaction and continued growth, Locaweb needed an email security solution that would deliver a comprehensive defense against spam and viruses without requiring constant refreshes of appliances and administrative resources.

Business Challenges

Locaweb’s email infrastructure team had run the gamut of security solutions—none of them addressing Locaweb’s core challenge. “Beyond uptime and performance, one of our biggest concerns was to make sure messages were delivered,” according to Gleicon Moraes, Senior Engineering Manager of Infrastructure and Platform as a Service at Locaweb. Previous email security solutions included Cisco IronPort appliances, content filtering engines from Commtouch, Cloud-based anti-spam services, as well as efforts led by Locaweb’s technical staff to create customized filters. Though each of these approaches had benefits during the initial deployment, they ultimately could not scale to the needs of one of Brazil’s largest service providers. Moraes sums up the result: “Customers were contacting support, system administrators were working overtime to clean up queues and filters, and there was a constant quest for server upgrades to handle the load.”

In choosing a solution, Locaweb had several key decision criteria. The overarching need was to keep their customers delighted. As a provider routing traffic for 4 million mailboxes and 10 million inbound addresses—almost all of which are provisioned for use by small and large business—Locaweb could not afford to let its customers down. The solution had to address an increasingly dangerous array of email-based threats and do so consistently over the long term.

Also high on the list was integration flexibility. Locaweb’s engineering team actively participates and contributes to the open source community. Not surprisingly, their email systems—leveraging postfix and dovecot—reflect this choice. The Locaweb team needed the email security solution to coexist nicely with their adapted stack of open source components and in-house developed software.

Finally, Locaweb required a solution that would scale with their business. Commenting on the performance capabilities of many enterprise and service provider focused devices, Moraes noted that “based on personal experience here and at other companies working with email, I can say I saw these devices almost fry under a regular overnight load.”

The Cloudmark Solution

After a comprehensive search for a better solution, Locaweb partnered with Cloudmark to meet its growing requirements for spam, phishing, and virus defenses. Locaweb chose to deploy Cloudmark Authority® inline after MX-layer postfix servers. The immediate win was the integration fit. With one change to a configuration file, Cloudmark was running out of the box in Locaweb's large and customized email infrastructure. Beyond the integration flexibility, performance and effectiveness were also validated. According to Moraes, “Even for our size, I think that the proof of concept time with Cloudmark was a record—1 week for one of our email cluster and about 2 weeks for the whole infrastructure.” The Cloudmark trial period contrasted with the typical appliance-based and cloud-based installations, which took a minimum of 3 weeks or longer, due to the complexities associated with installation and integration.

Results

Locaweb now filters all inbound mail relayed through its MX layer with Cloudmark and has achieved the following results:

Dramatically reduced support calls

By combining industry-leading messaging threat intelligence and automated fingerprints distributed by the Global Threat Network, Cloudmark provided Locaweb with an immediate reduction in resolution time of customer email-related problems. Prior to Cloudmark, problem resolution times had had held constant. Now, Locawab engineers can focus on building better services for its users and business partners, instead of troubleshooting email abuse and deliverability problems.

Almost 20% increase in spam catch rate

Locaweb went from filtering approximately 75–78% spam to well over 92% of the total messages received daily. The impact on Locaweb users and systems is significant, considering that Locaweb processes upwards of 180 million messages per day.

An end to costly server upgrades and replacements

The Locaweb engineering team team had learned that throwing more processing power and the best hardware at the spam problem was a losing battle. Cloudmark’s superior accuracy, architecture and scanning performance has allowed Locaweb to actually decommission 9 appliances that were previously redlining with an average catch rate. As Moraes remarks, “The number of appliances that we managed to turn off by using 2 Cloudmark servers with postfix as our MX barrier would make you drop off your chair.”

Locaweb (151KB)
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Locaweb (151KB)
The number of appliances that we managed to turn off by using 2 Cloudmark servers with postfix as our MX barrier would make you drop off your chair.
— Gleicon Moraes
Executive Manager, Locaweb
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