Managed e-mail services can be useful, particularly for large and complex messaging environments that might be difficult or expensive to manage internally.For example, Sprint\u2019s e-mail protection services are designed to clean e-mail of viruses and spam before it reaches the corporate network. Sprint operates 10 data centers, eight of which are in the U.S. Customers\u2019 e-mail is forwarded to the nearest data center, where multiple virus engines scan all e-mails for viruses, and where heuristic analysis and proprietary blacklists are used to scan e-mail for spam. Sprint provides store-and-forward capabilities and imposes total latency of less than three milliseconds on e-mail delivery time.One of Sprint\u2019s advantages is that the antivirus vendors used by Sprint release software updates to Sprint before full regression testing is complete on these updates, since Sprint performs its own regression testing.The company offers different bundles of services, including inbound only, outbound only, or both, and its services are priced by seat or by bandwidth. Sprint claims its spam filtering can block 98% of spam with no false positives.DQmax, a reseller of MessageLabs offerings, also provides managed virus, spam and pornography scanning. The company claims it blocks 100% of viruses, 98% to 99% of spam (with a false positive ratio of only one in 2 million) and 94% to 95% of pornography. DQmax also provides other services, including the ability to block file sharing and access to hate and related sites.The company also offers bandwidth management services, which limit the total amount of bandwidth available to end users on a daily or other basis. A large international customer of DQmax is using the bandwidth management service and will reduce its total bandwidth requirements by 30%.We just completed a study of the market for spam blocking and found that on average enterprises spend 8.7 person-hours per week per 1,000 e-mail users maintaining rules in their antispam systems. This means that the typical organization that has deployed a spam-blocking system spends about $16 per user per year just on the labor to tweak the spam filters. This does not take into account the cost of the spam-blocking systems themselves, or the cost of antivirus systems or the labor required to manage them.In short, managed services that provide specific, perimeter-based approaches for managing e-mail content are worth a look, even if you\u2019re against outsourcing in general.