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Spam Splits Service Provider Strategy ...

By Mark Hall
October 27, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - On the Mark

... in two because Internet service providers and hosted service providers must both police and protect users who send or receive the pernicious messages. According to Larry Donahue, chief operating officer of curiously named FatCow in Albuquerque, his Web hosting company not only trains the mostly small businesses it serves on how to develop spam-resistant sites, it must also detect and eliminate deliberate spammers as well as innocent ones. With 25,000 sites under FatCow's wing, so to speak, each averaging 100 unique e-mail addresses, that's a daunting task. "Spam is the No. 1 issue inside our company," he says. Nearly half of the 40,000 messages FatCow (also known as Net//works Web Hosting LLC) processes each hour in its all-Solaris data centers are spam. Next month, the company will bolster its spam-fighting defenses with new filtering technology that Donahue hopes will nail 99% of the digital dreck with almost no false positives. Various antispam laws in the works are pointless, he claims, and won't hinder offshore spammers a bit. And as long as dimwits with keyboards keep responding to spam, it will persist. Worse, claims Donahue, who also practices law, most of the proposed legislation ignores due process and fails to give carriers or companies like his any "safe harbor" provisions. So Donahue reluctantly supports a national statute, "but only to trump the multiple state laws," he says. The only way spam can be stopped, he says, is to change the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol specifically to block spam, something that's not likely to happen. "There's no hope," Donahue laments.

  • How much does spam cost your company? For a simple calculator, go to QuickLink a3760. It will help you justify buying filtering technologies, if the steady stream of money-sucking missives in your CEO's mailbox hasn't already done so.

  • The same Internet that brought you pricey spam can also save you a buck or two. Later this week, i2 Telecom International Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla. ships its EVoIP-4000, a four-channel voice-over-IP gateway. You can call anyone in the world through these VoIP-ready gateways at competitive rates. Better still, you can link far-flung offices together, and everyone can chat for free. Well, almost. The EVoIP-4000 costs $1,095.

  • What probably costs you more are haphazardly tested Web-based applications. Oh, sure, you check the source code for bugs and rigorously review the graphical user interface requirements. But how about the messaging system they run over? That's where 95% of the failures occur. Or so claims Lori Gipp, vice president of marketing at Solstice Software Inc. in Wilmington, Del. "And this applies to Web services, with an exclamation mark," she exclaims. Solstice estimates that 60% of Web services application problems stem from message format conflicts and that another 20% come from synchronization problems along a multiprotocol route. The rest are specific to a given computing environment. Tomorrow, the company will introduce Integra Enterprise 4.0, which, among other goodies, will include intelligent record and replay. This feature lets you quickly simulate an application's path through a complex route and record latencies at each protocol transaction to identify trouble spots. Pricing begins at $5,000 per user.

  • Cobol, PL1 users take heart. Relativity Technologies Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., unveils today its Application Profiler as part of its Modernization Workbench for mainframe developers. The new tool lets nondevelopers, such as business analysts, see for themselves how their proposed changes to business policies in one application will affect users and other programs. The theory behind Application Profiler is that business folks will bug you less often, freeing you to write more bug-free code. You can prove or disprove the theory for $1,000 per seat.

  • If you're a database administrator forced to manage more than one vendor's product, you might look closely at Quest Central for Databases 4.0 from Quest Software Inc. in Irvine, Calif. The upgrade, which ships today for $1,500, lets administrators work with Oracle, DB2 and now Microsoft SQL Server from a single console for tasks such as SQL statement tuning and creating tables. A good idea, no?

Immortal Data

If you think someone might want to peruse your data 20 or more years hence, consider Encapsulated Archive from OuterBay Technologies Inc. in Campbell, Calif. It uses XML to embed metadata and permits the information to be read without the application that created it. You know, long after Microsoft discontinues support for Office 2015. The product costs $50,000.

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