The ongoing search for an anti-spam vendor has run into an all too familiar road block. We have two vendors we're seriously considering. Sophos, and Cyphertrust. We had been looking at Postini, but their pricing was so far out of acceptable range they didn't make the second round of looking. They may have company.
The Sophos presentation yesterday to the higher up decision makers went rather well (except for the presentation PC wanting to go into standby mode after 20 minutes of no mouse movement, but I digress). The product is very well featured, the spam handling nicely complex, and the end-user experience looks to be fairly simple. Then came the numbers. I'm not quoting numbers, but the price had two big things wrong with it:
- The up-front cost was not much bigger than the yearly cost
- The yearly cost was twice what we pay already for Exchange AV and desktop AV for faculty/staff
Cyphertrust's demo was this morning, and that presentation wasn't nearly as well put together. I had been in on all the earlier wrangling involving technical details, and I personally liked the Cyphertrust implementation of anti-spam over the Sophos one. Unfortunately, the use of technology (Webex) was not well handled by the presenters. One downside is that a couple of very key make-or-break features we need aren't in the product quite yet, but will be when they rev in June or July. The pricing on this product was much more to our liking, but still out of the projected budget.
Right now the decisions are with the higher-ups to determine if we get to go through the dickering effort to crank down the costs of some of these systems, or just keep what we have and see what things look like next year. Really, for the prices involved we can have a half FTE do nothing but spam administration and that opens the door for some of these open source solutions we've been eying.
I also learned something during this process. As a publicly funded University subject to the financial whims of our State legislature for both tuition increases and direct subsidies, big up-front costs are far easier to get approved than yearly costs. In other words, the subscription model that software vendors are really fond of these days plays silly buggers with our ability to actually buy what we need. It comes down to the fact that big up-front costs can be delt with by taking surplusses in other areas that haven't spent their quota, where subscription stuff requires us to get an indefinate budget increase approved.