AppRiver’s Secure Hosted Exchange Service Delivers High-Quality, Consistent Experience to Growing Subscriber Base

The Situation

Founded in April 2002, AppRiver – based in Gulf Breeze, Florida – is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider offering secure messaging solutions to businesses of all sizes. In addition to spam and virus protection, the company provides a complete managed service for Microsoft® Exchange. With more than 25,500 customers around the world – and an impressive 97% customer retention rate since its inception – AppRiver is one of the largest email security managed service providers worldwide. In 2006, Red Herring magazine named AppRiver one of 10 private security companies to watch, and more recently the company was named to CRN Magazine’s 2007 Emerging Tech Dynamos list.

The Challenge

With a goal of delivering a high-quality service to all of its customers – no matter where they are located – AppRiver has always understood the importance of ensuring consistent application responsiveness and performance. That philosophy is even more essential when it comes to delivering a mission-critical application such as email. As soon as it heard requests for consistent email performance from partners and customers they realized a high availability Hosted Exchange solution was not possible without reaching beyond the data center. The link between the client and their information must behave in a more reliable, deterministic fashion or the customer experience will be inconsistent at best. While providing email to over 4 million mailboxes, we understand the mission critical nature of email and the implications that an unstable connection can create. Whether the client is a 10 person business operating regionally or a 10,000 person organization with a global presence, email availability is paramount. With today’s workforce becoming more mobile, access to email, contacts, calendars and shared resources become even more critical. When accessing this information, their connection must be quick, consistent and reliable.

The Goals

AppRiver needed to meet three key requirements to support its objectives:

  • Deliver consistent performance to all customers
    In order to ensure high customer retention rates and grow the hosted Exchange subscriber base, AppRiver must ensure superior performance for its customers around the world.
  • Ensure resiliency
    The company wanted to do whatever it could to eliminate support calls related to Internet conditions beyond its control.
  • Gain instant scalability
    AppRiver wanted to successfully grow its business without expanding its technology and support infrastructure.

“Regardless of where our customers are, or how they are accessing their email, we can provide an optimized connection between them and their information because of Akamai.”
Scott Cutler, Executive Vice President, AppRiver

Why Akamai

Solving difficult problems

As AppRiver began exploring solutions, it talked to a number of vendors. According to Joel Smith, chief technology officer for AppRiver, “No one understood our needs. We are delivering bulky protocols over the Internet, and it seemed no one had a solution.”

The company considered deploying more servers in more data centers, but even with a modest expansion, the cost would be four times that of the Akamai solution. But this only makes the problem more granular… it doesn’t solve it. i.e. people can be close to their data but if the local connection is stressed, performance will be poor. What was needed was the ability to connect the client with the server using the most efficient route available “at that moment”. Making this decision requires real-time information about the health of the Internet. Akamai’s Real-Time Web Monitor gives a glimpse into the virtual weather map of the internet,” continues Smith.

Consistency around the globe

As AppRiver is well aware, trying to control the link between an email client and server is no small task. In fact, it had discovered that the connection quickly degraded the further users were from the origin server. But, as soon as AppRiver began testing Akamai’s Remote Access Accelerator (RAA) service with some of its clients, it saw immediate improvements.

“With Akamai in place, customers who couldn’t connect are now experiencing a reliable, stable connection. And while start-up connection and synchronization times vary, on average, we are seeing these times cut in half.” says Scott Cutler, executive vice president for AppRiver. “In addition, our support calls related to application availability have decreased by 70 percent.”

Service resiliency leads to happier customers

In spite of the fact that AppRiver maintains multiple tier 1 data centers in the US and Europe, along with bandwidth arrangements with six major network providers, it is unable to avoid the uncontrollable outages that plague the Internet.

“Because the Internet is made up of so many different networks, we are still susceptible to issues with ISPs further downstream. The Akamai solution allows us to be aware of and overcome Internet conditions to deliver a consistent experience,” explains Cutler.

“There is no way around it – there are outages on the Internet every day. And when those outages impact our customers, we get calls. Because of the dynamic routing capabilities of the Akamai network, email is delivered to our customers even in the event of these outages. That means satisfied customers and an end to availability related support calls,” continues Smith.

Supporting growing demands for mobile access

AppRiver was facing the additional challenge of extending reliable, consistent service to a growing proportion of subscribers using mobile devices – including BlackBerries and smart phones – to access email. In addition to often being oversubscribed, cell networks can lose up to 25% of the data packets that traverse their lines. When that happens, mobile devices hang or lose connectivity. Akamai’s RAA service minimizes the adverse performance impact of the cellular network, reduces back traffic on the Exchange system and improves the overall user experience.

“Akamai has made high availability SaaS solutions possible for companies like AppRiver. Email is a critical application for just about every business. There is a lot of evidence that Hosted Exchange providers need to get serious about reliability and availability regardless of where or how their customers connect to their email. No amount of data center expansion will make this possible because the problem is not the number of data centers or the highly controlled environment within the data centers; it’s what happens outside the data center. Businesses large and small are holding SaaS vendors to a higher standard than they demand from their internal IT teams. The availability and reliability we achieve using Akamai’s technology ensures AppRiver meets this standard.” explains Cutler.

Expanding the business instead of its infrastructure

AppRiver isn’t just in business to provide applications – it wants to continue to deliver a superior customer experience and maintain a high customer retention rate. “With Akamai, we can keep our customer satisfaction high and our quality of service consistent – all without expanding our infrastructure,” says Smith.

“Delivering Microsoft Exchange is a challenge for any company – whether an organization is trying to do it in-house or a service provider such as AppRiver is providing it. With Akamai by our side, we can deliver a high-quality, high-availability hosted Exchange service that truly sets us apart.” concludes Smith.


AppRiver, LLC
Gulf Breeze, Florida


Software & Technology


Akamai Remote Access Accelerator


  • Delivers a consistent experience to users worldwide
  • Reduces volume of support calls
  • Gains confidence in delivery to mobile devices
  • Helps maintain high customer retention rate

About AppRiver

AppRiver is a privately held provider of business email solutions, including Microsoft Exchange 2003 hosting and spam and virus filtering, with more than 17,000 customers using its managed services and over 25,500 businesses worldwide using its solutions. Founded in 2002, AppRiver is headquartered in Gulf Breeze, Florida. For more information, visit

About Akamai

Akamai is the leading global service provider for accelerating content and business processes online. Thousands of organizations have formed trusted relationships with Akamai, improving their revenue and reducing costs by maximizing the performance of their online businesses. Leveraging the Akamai EdgePlatform, these organizations gain business advantage today, and have the foundation for the emerging Web solutions of tomorrow. Akamai is “The Trusted Choice for Online Business.” For more information, visit

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