Spreading by stealth

Simple ideas are the best, and Auckland-based SMX continues to do well with an idea that must have people all over the world kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.

They route their customers' email through their own servers where they apply their own special mix of anti-malware software, then they pass it on certified fresh and harmless, and send out an invoice every month. "It always sounds simple after I've explained it to you," as Holmes once told Watson.

But this simple idea continues to progress in global markets, and its employee head count has doubled in the past year to 15, with more recruiting in prospect. "We now have two landmark international agreements," SMX managing director Jesse Ball says. "One is with CMC in India, which continues to advance, and the other is with Symantec in Indonesia. We'll be working with them to deliver a managed anti-abuse platform to Indonesia Data Centre, the peering exchange for the whole of Indonesia.

Unlike New Zealand, where we have the Auckland and Wellington peering exchanges, and Telstra and Telecom not peering, every internet service provider in Indonesia peers because the cost of international bandwidth is so expensive." (Peering is, roughly, a system in which ISPs agree not to charge for use of each other's networks - in theory sharing resources reduces costs and increases network performance for everyone. Telecom decided years ago not to play.)

"So they're all sitting on one massive loop, and there are 198 ISPs on that loop who are highly likely to sign up with SMX, beyond the initial deployment. And the neat thing about Indonesia is that it's fundamentally different from most deployments. We can do it all from Auckland over the internet."

A feature of SMX's service is that it is easily "white-labelled" - ISPs can offer it under their own brand if they wish.

"Also, the deal we did with CMC has progressed; it has built two data centres provisioned with our solution. As a result we're expecting to sign up 250 resellers across India in the next month. And we're also working some large telcos in the region - it's possibly the most heavily spammed region in the world, with estimates that 98% of Indian email is spam. It's not uncommon for large corporates there to have their internet connection crippled for days by viral or denial of service attacks.

"Even though the region obviously presents huge opportunities, we've found that working alongside our market partners lets us approach those opportunities one by one. It's not a typical 'New Zealand takes on the world' story, where you have to put a salesman in the US, a salesman in Europe, and so on.

Instead we're selecting leading providers like Symantec who already have that presence and plugging in to their network. By the end of the year we'll have another three or four countries where we'll be available, and the opportunities will have come to us through a market partner. We can grow without ever having to place local offices around the globe."


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