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GFI Software

In The Boardroom With...

Mr. Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita
Director of Marketing
GFI Software Please give us an overview of your background and a brief company history.

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: My name is Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita and I am GFI’s Director of Marketing. I joined GFI in 1999 to manage the company’s online marketing activities after having spent a number of years heading various web-related development and marketing projects during the early years of the Internet. I was appointed Director of Marketing in 2006 and have since been overseeing GFI’s global marketing efforts.

In terms of company profile, GFI was founded in 1992 and began developing voice and fax software technology for its FAXmaker FAX on Demand product. The first product was launched in 1993. This was followed by a fax server, FAXmaker for Networks/SMTP. In 1999, the company launched its first content security product, Mail Essentials. The first network security product, LANguard, was launched the following year. Today, GFI sells a portfolio comprising nine products.

GFI has grown rapidly over the years and even more so after 2005 when the owner and founder sold the company to US venture capital company, Insight Venture Partners. Since 2005 the company has undergone changes that have enabled it to grow both in terms of revenue and profit and also in terms of GFI’s staff complement and geographically.

GFI’s focus has always been small and medium sized businesses and this has proved to be a very successful formula. In fact, the figures speak for themselves: 200,000 installations worldwide, 120,000 customers for a total of 37 million seats and over 150 awards, apart from the price of the majority of GFI’s products shipping at the lowest and most competitive rates on the market, especially within the SMB sphere. One will read on that, “GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs.” Please give us an overview of GFI solutions in the content security, messaging, network security and compliance space.

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita:
GFI’s product portfolio comprises nine products in three categories.

Content security
Content security is GFI’s strongest seller. Its importance is reflected in the growing threat from spam, email threats and unmonitored internet usage. Our three products are the no.1 spam solution, GFI MailEssentials. This product has won numerous awards and is used by over 80,000 customers.

The next product is GFI MailSecurity. This product uses multiple anti-virus engines at server level to protect an organization’s email server. However, it is a content management tool in its own right, giving administrators all the functionality needed to ensure that content is safe and does not contain information that may be leaked to outsiders. This product is in use by over 30,000 businesses and institutions around the world.

The third product is GFI WebMonitor. This provides companies with the ability to control internet browsing at the office and ensure that downloads are free from viruses, malware and spyware – and with real time monitoring. Three versions are available to cater for particular administrative needs.

Network security
There are four products in this category. GFI LANguard is a vulnerability management product that allows administrators to scan, detect, assess and rectify vulnerabilities on the network. GFI LANguard is an indispensable tool for keeping networks secure. Over 20,000 customers use the product including some of the larger enterprises such a NATO.

The next product is GFI EventsManager. This product allows administrators to collect event logs from all machines on the network and analyze them from a central location. Together with GFI LANguard, GFI EventsManager is a key tool for companies aiming for PCI compliance.

Then we have GFI EndPointSecurity. This is an an easy-to-install-and-use solution that helps SMBs to monitor and control the use of portable devices such as USB sticks, flash drivers, iPods on the network and what data is being copied to or from the system.

Finally, there is GFI NetworkServerMonitor which provides real-time monitoring of services running on the network.

We have two messaging products.

The first is GFI MailArchiver. This product allows companies to address the problem of ever-growing PST files, to audit what emails are being sent by employees and to meet various compliance requirements that are in place. GFAXmaker, the company’s flagship for many years and now is the no.1 selling fax server, has been shown to improve productivity in SMBs and reduce the costs of traditional faxing for tens of thousands of customers by allowing them to send and receive faxes from their email client. We also read with great interest that GFI has over 200,000 installations worldwide. That is very impressive. What are your target markets and what is your perspective on the market drivers for GFI solutions at this time?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: GFI is a leading software developer with a huge customer base that reflects the strong reputation GFI enjoys – particularly within the SMBs sphere, which is our main market. The excellent reputation we enjoy is translated into strong year-on-year growth and this makes GFI the absolute market leader in a number of markets. For example, with 80,000 customers for GFI MailEssentials, GFI is the no1 anti-spam, anti-phishing vendor on the market. Barracuda, with 50,000 customers (claimed) is well behind GFI. In the fax server sector, GFI FAXmaker has been no.1 for a number of years, keeping competitors at bay thanks to its technology, ease of use and, above all, low price. In general market terms, GFI is clearly positioned as the leading provider of network security, content security and messaging software for companies in the SMB sphere.

In terms of market drivers, our content security products continue to be extremely popular driven, no doubt, by the growth in volume of malicious material that is being circulated and the huge impact that spam is having on organizations.

We are also seeing a huge market for email archiving and this is something that we are working actively upon this year. GFI MailArchiver’s popularity among SMBs has been increasing every month and we are noticing that our efforts to develop an easy-to-use, high quality product at an unbeatable price for SMBs are paying off – because our clients are demanding it.

In fact, if we had to define a single driver for our business at the moment, it is pricing. Our prices are the lowest on the market and for small and medium sized organizations price is becoming a key deciding factor when they purchase a software solution. Congratulations on the recent “win” with Yamaha Motor Taiwan Co. Ltd, which forms part of the worldwide YAMAHA group. Please tell us about the solution GFI provided here.

Stephen Chencuti Bonavita: Yamaha Motor Taiwan Co. Ltd, which forms part of the worldwide YAMAHA group operation, required a solution that worked seamlessly with Microsoft ISA Server to prevent their computer networks from being infected with viruses and malicious material downloaded from the Internet. After evaluating a number of products on the market, Yamaha chose GFI WebMonitor WebSecurity edition for its performance, user-friendly management console and reporting capabilities.

As I said earlier, GFI WebMonitor provides companies with the ability to control internet browsing at the office and ensure that downloads are free from viruses, malware and spyware – and with real time monitoring. Three versions are available to cater for particular administrative needs.

The WebFilter edition comes with WebGrade, a 100% human-reviewed site categorization database that gives you control over what sites users can browse and block access to websites in particular categories, such as adult, online gaming, personal email, P2P, Facebook, Myspace, travel websites and more. The WebSecurity edition allows administrators to monitor what files employees are downloading, to block file-types such as mp3s and to scan all files for viruses, spyware and malware using multiple anti-virus engines. GFI WebMonitor also lowers the risk of social engineering by blocking access to phishing websites through the use of an auto-updatable database of phishing URLs.

The UnifiedProtection edition combines the above two editions with more features, thus offering a comprehensive approach to web security. We also understand that you have provided your email security solution to The University of Liverpool, one of the UK's leading universities. Without divulging any proprietary or confidential information, of course, can you tell us about the solution GFI has provided here?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: The University of Liverpool’s primary mode of communication is email and their computer network delivers over 8 million email messages each month to over 50,000 different locations.

Due to this high dependency on email the University required an anti-virus product that offered optimum protection at server level and ensured that each email was clean of malicious content before it reached each one of the 30,000 plus mailboxes. Apart from a solution that offered multiple anti-virus engines the major issue for the University was that the product ran in a clustered environment.

GFI MailSecurity uses multiple virus scanners to scan inbound email. Using multiple scanners drastically reduces the average time to obtain virus signatures which combat the latest threats, and therefore greatly reduces the chances of an infection. The reason for this is that a single anti-virus company can never always be the quickest to respond. For each outbreak, virus companies have varying response times to a virus, depending on where the virus was discovered, etc.

By using multiple virus engines, you have a much better chance of having at least one of your virus engines up-to-date and able to protect against the latest virus. In addition, since each engine has its own heuristics and methods, one virus engine is likely to be better at detecting a particular virus and its variants, while another virus engine would be stronger at detecting a different virus. Overall, more virus engines means better protection.

GFI MailSecurity is also a content management product which allows companies to implement content policies throughout the company. For example, GFI MailSecurity's attachment checking rules enable administrators to quarantine attachments based on user and file type. GFI MailSecurity can also scan for information leaks, for example, an employee emailing a database. You can also choose to delete attachments like .mp3 or .mpg files. Administrators can also use the product’s powerful content policies rules engine to configure rule sets based on user and keywords that allow the administrator to quarantine potentially dangerous content for administrator approval. In this way, GFI MailSecurity can also scan for offensive content. There are many other features and I would encourage readers to download a trial version and try it out for themselves. An Australian water treatment company is also using GFI products to protect its network. Care to elaborate?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: This is an interesting case study. OSMOFLO is a leading desalination and water treatment company in Australia. With 100 employees and growing, the company required a suite of solutions that enabled it to monitor internet browsing and downloading by its employees, as well as protect the company from the increasing volume of spam and emails containing malicious material. Furthermore, the company required a reliable solution to replace the fax server software it was running. The company’s solution has been to implement four of GFI’s nine products: GFI MailSecurity, a multiple anti-virus solution; GFI MailEssentials, anti-spam and anti-phishing; GFI WebMonitor, to monitor internet browsing and downloading; and GFI FAXmaker, our marketing leading fax server on the market. Are there any other “wins” or success stories you’d like to talk about?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: There are many other ‘wins’ and success stories that we could talk at length about. What is common in every story is the fact that GFI’s products work as they should, are easy to install and use and they don’t cost a bomb to deploy. We are proud to say that we have 120,000 success stories. Please tell us about GFI’s strategic partnership with Microsoft. Are there any particular strategic relationships and/or partners you’d like to mention?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: GFI is a Microsoft Gold Partner and this reflects the company’s efforts to maintain the highest standards of software development and products that run in a Microsoft environment.We also have a strategic partnership with two leading anti-virus companies BitDefender and Norman. Their anti-virus engines are bundled with GFI MailSecurity. GFI offers a wealth of resources for end-users on such as GFI Security Labs where users can read the latest about new virus threats and access up-to-date information about email and network security. Please tell us more about GFI Security Labs.

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: The GFI Security Labs offers end-user a repository of security information that they can use to be better informed about the latest security issues and threats. For those who are maybe new to the world of security, there are numerous articles and white papers as well as product news that may be of interest to them. Visitors to the website may also ‘test’ their network using two online scanners., for example, tests the security of an email system and informs the user if they are vulnerable to email threats. The second is which checks for high security events happening on a machine (such as users logging on to the machine, failed logon attempts, security policy changes, and more). What additional resources are available for end-users on, such as “whitepapers”?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: GFI has won dozens of awards over the years and this has come about because the company has always made it a point to provide the SMB market, but not exclusively, with the products that they seek to solve their every days IT problems. The awards are testament not only to GFI’s ability to develop software at an excellent price but also to the quality of engineering. Each award acknowledges one or more of the four pillars upon which our business is based: quality, performance, price and easy-of-use. These awards have also encouraged us over the years to continue working hard to give SMBs a range of products that use state-of-the-art technology and are regularly updated to counter the latest threats and provide the security required for businesses to run smoothly. Thanks again for joining us today. Are there any other subjects you’d like to discuss?

Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita: No. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about GFI and our products.