As part of a Hosted Service, sometimes I have to give credit where credit is due to other people within our department.
Our latest release has a feature called Message Trace Real Time Reporting. Basically, whenever somebody sends a message through our service, you can view the delivery status of the message within an hour. In fact, much of the time, you can see it within 15 minutes. Customers (apparently) have been raving about this feature. It comes in very useful when people can go to the self-service portal and figure out where their message is in our network. It's kind of like FedEx or UPS package-tracking.
As I learned the complexity of MTRTR, I became more impressed. The messages go through our Message Switch and the disposition is logged. These logs are captured and forwarded to local consolidators all throughout our network. These local consolidators are forwarded to (fewer) global consolidators, where everything is indexed in SQL server so customers can search for their message. It really is an impressive architecture considering the amount of hardware involved.
It's infrastructure like this that gives me plenty of ideas for spam detection. The compilation of mail statistics in real time (or near real-time) makes it possible to detect new spammy outbursts far quicker than ever before. It's just a matter of leveraging all of that architecture.