Cisco Email Security (ESA) Review

The most valuable feature is the policies or rules that you can put on it


What is our primary use case?

It is just another level of protection that we use, as far as email is concerned. We use it for different policies or as another scanning engine, e.g., on the desktop or for data coming through another email gateway.

How has it helped my organization?

At one point, there was a zero-day attack. The Cisco appliance detected it and stopped it, helping us out. We avoided the attack and potential damage.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the policies or rules that you can put on it. This definitely helps with routing specific things to different destinations within our organization, or even potentially blocking when something is coming in and out, to where you can't do this on an email server or on our other email gateway. It's just not possible.

What needs improvement?

On their roapmap, they are looking to integrate with different cloud features, like Office 365.

I would like them to add some clustering or high availability features.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I haven't had any issues with memory or CPU. I haven't had any unstable performances from any of the appliances. Initially, we had physical appliances, then we went and upgraded to virtual appliances at some point. However, even the physical appliances were pretty stable.

I did run into one issue at one time where I had to shut something off. It was a bug, but being down for an hour or two is just two costly for our firm.

Deployment and maintenance is handled by two people (email engineers).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good. We have four appliances total clustered, two in one data center and two in the other. The ability to increase is definitely doable, and it's helpful if you need to do that.

We are a legal firm with close to 2000 employees.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is definitely good. The turnaround time to speak to someone is very good, as well.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We had another appliance (Axway MailGate) and switched because it was outdated. Also, their support model wasn't that great. They were difficult to get a hold of after six or seven in the evening.

How was the initial setup?

The initial product setup was easy. However, it was a bit more complex on our side because of some of the rules that we had set up on a previous appliance, which was not Cisco. Trying to match some of those to Cisco was a little complex. We had some consultants help us out with that. Overall, it wasn't too bad.

The deployment took three to five days.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with a partner consulting firm, Presidio, who very useful and helpful.

We did a proof of concept first off, then did a hard cut over on the weekend.

What was our ROI?

For what you get for the product, the support, and the overall stability, it is definitely a good return on investment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We do annual licensing for ESA and SMA together, and possibly SmartNet support. Packaged together, the cost is just under $38,000.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at two or three different vendors. One of the solutions that we looked at was a virtual Linux-based appliance. We did evaluate that and a proof of concept around it. However, it wasn't as robust as Cisco, as far as features and high availability.

What other advice do I have?

Give it a chance. If you can do a proof of concept somehow to rate it against other competitors which are out there, look into it because it is a good product.

I haven't upgraded to version 12 yet.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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