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Plusnet look to the Clouds for email security solution

Plusnet look to the Clouds for email security solution

Plusnet look to the Clouds for email security solution



Tomorrow (5th October) we will be starting the migration of customers from our 'IronPort' anti-spam/anti-virus platform across to a new solution provided by a company called 'Cloudmark'.

You can keep up to date with the progress of the migration by subscribing to receive Service Status updates by email or RSS, or by keeping abreast of the discussion over on our Community Site discussion forums.

We hope to have everybody who uses our spam/virus filtering moved across to the new platform by Saturday 22nd October.

We've planned for the changes to be as seamless as possible and the vast majority of customers are unlikely to notice as the email and spam controls available in the Member Centre will remain largely unchanged.

Those interested to find out more though should read on for the finer detail...

What are we doing?

  • To protect the customer experience/integrity of the email platform we use dedicated network appliances to block spam and virus traffic.
  • We currently use IronPort appliances from Cisco to do this.
  • We've recently made the decision to switch to an alternative vendor known as Cloudmark.
  • The new solution is based on Cloudmark Gateway Server appliances and Cloudmark's Authority detection engine.
  • We are also relocating the anti-spam appliances from their current location in London and bringing them back up to sunny Sheffield!

Why Cloudmark?

There's a number of benefits associated with the move to Cloudmark:

  • It does a good job of balancing cost against functionality.
  • It's geared towards service providers rather than corporate environments (other solutions tend to focus on the latter).
  • Improved control over outbound spam prevention/rate limiting.
  • It's easily scalable and offers tight integration with our mail platform.

How are we doing it?

The migration will be staggered over the coming weeks, and is currently scheduled for completion on Thursday 20th October. More specific timings will be published to our Service Status pages.

The technical stuff!

Customers will be able to tell when they've been moved across as the MX records for their domains will change from:

10 20


10 20

You can check your MX records by entering your email address into a lookup tool like the one available here.

After we've migrated all  customers to the new platform we will look to replace the above records with a single entry:

(As of 30th November '11 all records have been changed to, see here for further details).

Because the migration involves making a DNS changes it's worth bearing in mind that not all of your email will pass through the Cloudmark platform immediately following the migration. Instead it will be a gradual change that could take anything up to 48 hours to fully propagate. There will be a period of time when some of your email passes through the new platform, whilst some is still passing through the old.

Another thing you may notice is subtle differences to some of the headers of your received email.

Email that's passed through Cloudmark will have headers that contain something like this:

X-CM-Score: 0.00 X-CNFS-Analysis

Whereas email that's still passing through the old system will contain headers that look a little like this:

X-SBRS: 3.6 X-IronPort-Anti-Spam-Filtered: true X-IronPort-Anti-Spam-Result:

If you have spam filtering switched off then it's unlikely you'll see either of the above as your email will bypass both the new and old anti-spam appliances.

Do you envisage any problems?

We've done our utmost to avoid any ill effects that may arise during the migration, however even with the most ardent of preparation/testing unexpected things can still happen!

You may of course notice a subtle change in the frequency of spam email that you receive. Hopefully this will be for the better though!

If you do encounter any problems, have any further questions about this work, or just want to provide feedback about the performance of the new anti-spam platform then we welcome your comments and questions over on our discussion forums.

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