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Shelving a Linux Server, Moving to Windows and Load Balancer Cans Spam

When your CEO sits within earshot, you can be privy to plenty of grumblings. For Bob Wittig, corporate IT manager at San Carlos, Calif.-based Independent Electric Supply, complaints about spam were often made loud enough for him to hear. "I was not immune to hearing about it every day," says Wittig, who has been the top IT person at the $270-million electrical parts distributor since 2004.

At the height of Wittig's spam woes, the company had 250 employees and was primarily a Microsoft shop running a single Linux server, SpamAssassin, the open source mail filter, and SUSE Linux email software. Today, with more than 525 employees, the company has two Windows email servers and a load balancer. Wittig runs Vircom's ModusMail, Windows-based email server software -- and here's the good part -- it has antispam software built in. Taking this road meant Wittig abandoned Linux and rejected two alternative routes: to outsource his problem to a message management company (which was too expensive, Wittig says) or migrate his shop to an Exchange server. "We wanted to avoid Exchange -- it's pricey and subject to viruses and malware -- things we don't want our network exposed to," Wittig says. "We're a Microsoft shop in other respects, but didn't feel warm and fuzzy about going to Exchange."

Wittig saved money by going with ModusMail. He estimates he would have spent $40,000 by going with Exchange. Instead, he spent $18,000 on the two servers and a load balancer and $11,000 on the software.

It's been a month since go-live, and Wittig has counted 150,000 blocked spam messages. "I don't have to listen to people complain, and I get pats on the back now." Problem solved.

Stefanie McCann was formerly editor at large at CIO Decisions magazine. To comment on this story, email

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