Cisco Email Security (ESA) Review

Adds another security layer without slowing down the business or network performance


What is our primary use case?

Our main deployment is for a shipping company. We're protecting their local Exchange Server and their online Exchange email.

How has it helped my organization?

It means less malicious email, fewer interruptions, and less risk. It actually circumvents malicious emails; rather than getting to the users, the users don't see them. End of story. There's a risk without it. The user might get the email and might click on the link. Once that happens, they are toast, as is the network.

The number of malicious emails it blocks differs from one company to another. It depends on the volume of email they get. I would say on average, depending on how many users there are, it could block 1,000 emails a day.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are protection against ransomware and spam. Those are the main two features. It also adds an additional layer to your networks. Cybersecurity isn't a comprehensive solution. You have to keep on adding layers without disrupting the flow of the business. The Cisco Email Security appliance does that, where it adds another layer without slowing down the business or the performance of the network.

What needs improvement?

The user interface needs some improvement to become more user-friendly. The graphics could be better. It's designed more for a technical user rather than a business user.

The solution has flexibility. I think they are working on improving it as we speak. They're responsive to the feedback we give.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. We haven't had any issues or downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable, especially the cloud version. You can get up to about 100,000 users on the appliance but the cloud version is more flexible. When you do scale it up you don't see slower performance.

In the largest environment in which we've implemented it, there are 200-plus users. It's utilized by 100 percent of the users. It's not at 100 percent capacity.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. We haven't had any issues. Their response is very prompt and they are very knowledgeable.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. There are two flavors. There's the cloud-based and the appliance. With the cloud-based solution you just point your email server to the IP address in the cloud. With the appliance, you just install it into your rack and connect it to the Exchange Server. The cloud deployment takes about ten to 15 minutes, and the appliance, because you have to install it, takes about 60 minutes.

It requires just one person for deployment. It doesn't require anybody for maintenance. You just set it and go.

What was our ROI?

The return here is more security and fewer interruptions. It's more stability and productivity versus less productivity, although I'm not sure how you can quantify it.

It's a time-saver. If you get interrupted by ransomware or a hack, it could be costly. Every breach, just the cybersecurity breach, on average costs at least $65,000 to fix, let alone the interruption in work and retrieving data, according to industry sources. You could say that you're minimizing your costs by $65,000.

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

Licensing costs depend on how many users there are. It could range between $5 and $7 per month, per user. There are no costs other than the standard licensing fees.

What other advice do I have?

There is no totally comprehensive solution in cybersecurity. I find Cisco Email Security to be comprehensive, but it's not 100 percent. There is no silver-bullet solution when it comes to cybersecurity. You better keep on adding protection layers to your network. Don't think you're not going to be a target. As a small or medium business, you will be targeted. It's so easy to get through a firewall nowadays. One layer of cybersecurity is not going to do it. You need to add two, three, four layers. 

It's just like going to the airport. The first thing you see is the check-in desk. They check who you are, that you have valid credentials, where you're going and why. Then you go through the scanners. Then you go through another layer of security. Once you get through, you're also being watched to make sure that you don't become "malicious." There are a lot of layers.

I would rate the solution at nine out of ten. What comes to mind when giving it that rating is ease of use. Just set it and go. A better UI would make it a ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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