IBM Internet Security Systems (ISS) has announced a virtual email security appliance that runs alongside other applications, instead of requiring a dedicated device.

The virtual appliance, which is expected to be released this month, is based on ISS's Proventia Network Mail Security System and is designed to block all the abuses entering an organisation via email as well as monitoring of outbound email.

Exemplifying the trend among data centres to consolidate hardware components and their management, the new appliance from ISS, which was acquired by IBM last year, lowers the cost of email security while simplifying the tracking, auditing, and prevention of messaging threats, officials say.

The new virtual security appliance combines features from ISS's intrusion-prevention systems, and can protect organizations from both traditional and image-based spam.

As with the existing Proventia products, the new appliance can be managed via a centralised console, the IBM Proventia Management SiteProtector, which also works with ISS's entire suite of security products, officials say. At launch the virtual appliance will work with VMware, and the company plans to add compatibility with other virtual environments in the future. Pricing for the virtual appliance depends on the number of users in an organisation.

IBM's ISS is not the first company to release a virtualised version of an email security appliance; Proofpoint last year released a version of its Messaging Security Gateway for VMware.