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Friday June 7th 2013 | 11:13

The Gateway guardian - a day in the life of an Egress Technical Engineer

James Hinks
Technical Services Manager
Egress Software Technologies Ltd.

One of my favourite jobs as Technical Engineer is visiting our customers, providing pre-sales and technical support, as well as deploying our file and encryption solutions – such as Egress Switch Gateway. Deployment is a particularly exciting point, as by that time, we've worked closely with our customers to understand their individual needs. So it's really nice to be able to see them as they're just about to use the software for the first time.

Meeting customers' needs

When I arrive at a customer's office to deploy Switch Gateway, I normally have a quick briefing meeting with those involved - as well as a very welcome cup of coffee! Then I settle down to the business of deployment.

Firstly, I help to configure the mail filtering/scanning product. Customers never want all of their emails to go through Switch Gateway - there's simply no need, as not every email requires encryption. I set up the system so that, for outbound emails, those tagged for encryption or those that policy indicates need encrypting are sent to Switch Gateway. Similarly for inbound emails, only the ones that are encrypted need to be routed through Switch Gateway for decryption. Having worked with so many third party products, I've become very familiar with how different systems work – and, admittedly, I even have my favourites!

Simple installation 

Once the mail filtering/scanning product has been configured, the actual install of Switch Gateway comes next. The main benefit of Switch Gateway is that it does all the hard work for you – once it's deployed based on an organisation's individual security policy, it works in the background to seamlessly encrypt emails.

For me, this means that every deployment is different.

The first step is to configure the server, ensuring pre-requisite roles and features are installed. A large part of this relies on SMTP, so my next job is to make sure the SMTP servers are locked down appropriately and route to the next hops securely.

Finally comes the installation of the Switch Gateway server itself. During this process, I'll consult with the customer on various points – for example, domains that specify whether or not an email needs encrypting.

Delivering a working solution

Once Switch Gateway has been installed, I run tests to make sure that it's all working properly and in accordance with the customer's security policy. As part of this, I ensure that emails are being routed through Switch Gateway when they should be and whether they're being encrypted correctly based on customised policies. After this is done, I can then carry out some advanced processes, such as domain-based routing – for example, if an email has to be sent to both a secure and an unsecure domain, then Switch Gateway can be set up to only encrypt the email going to the unsecure domain, while the other one is passed down the relevant route.

When I'm finished with the deployment, I'll have another meeting with the relevant people to quickly discuss any next steps that need to be taken, such as user training materials and getting users set up with their Switch IDs/passwords. Generally, the most successful deployments are on the accounts that publicise a lot of material for both internal users and, most importantly, their customers. Since we have so much experience with this, it is important that we pass on our knowledge and best practice to the customers.

I would definitely say that deployment is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I've travelled all round the country doing it, and as our customers represent a wide range of businesses across all sectors, I get to meet a real variety of people. What I love most is seeing how what I do helps our customers to get on with what they do – even though, by the nature of the product, it's often just a feature in the background.

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