In today's economic climate you need to be more efficient with your IT budget. And since email is a key tool for almost every businesses, keeping spam and malware out of inboxes remains a top priority. In our experience, companies often overlook the productivity costs that spam and viruses have on their business. This simple ROI calculator lets you see how much spam can impact expenses and productivity, particularly if your current anti-spam solution is waning in effectiveness.

Once you quantify how much spam is costing your company, it makes sense to re-evaluate the IT options for managing spam. The first, and perhaps biggest, decision is whether to keep spam filtering in-house or use a hosted service. It can be difficult to add up the true expenses of each solution. On the surface, the cost of an appliance may seem reasonable, but the up-front costs are just the beginning in a complete cost-of-ownership calculation.

At Google, we believe that email security makes sense as a hosted service for several cost-related reasons:

* A cloud computing solution provides you with a predictable expense. A spike in spam can hit at any time, and companies using an in-house solution may find themselves dealing with the unexpected capital expense of a new appliance to deal with the load.

* You save on maintenance costs. After installation, most in-house appliances require regular upgrades and maintenance. With a hosted solution, all the updates are handled through the cloud. Nothing to worry about or budget for.

* Using the cloud makes email security more effective. With a hosted service such as Google Message Security, you tap into a network of intelligence that spans more than 40,000 businesses and 14 million users, reaping the benefits of the economies of scale that come with that.

To help you understand the whole cost of spam, we're introducing a TCO (total cost of ownership) calculator, which lets you compare expenses for in-house appliances versus hosted services. Using a three-year time horizon and considering both start-up and maintenance costs, companies can save thousands by choosing a hosted service. The graph below models the results of one cost scenario, for a 100-user company:

Let's look at a customer who was re-evaluating their spam solution last year: Gaines, Wolter, & Kinney, P.C. is a civil litigation firm in Birmingham, Alabama, that specializes in tort defense. They needed a solution that would reduce the inflow of network traffic and be cost effective. David Hebert, an IT administrator for GW&K, recalls, "Our limits on connection bandwidth meant that a service that filtered out spam was a no-brainer decision." But David needed data to convince management that a change was essential. He used a ROI calculator and found that they were losing 122 hours per employee in productivity each year to spam. With the hourly rate of their lawyers, this meant that choosing Google Message Security paid for itself in 1 day.

If your business is interested in learning more about how hosted services like Google Message Security can save you money and increase productivity, visit us at