United Community Bank (UCB) is a privately owned community bank that has been serving customers since 1912. Email is tied in to virtually every aspect of the business – so any slowdown or interruption is certain to negatively impact customers.
In 2010, UCB Director of Information Systems Roscoe Streyle noticed an alarming increase in the amount of spam hitting users’ mailboxes – and unfortunately, users noticed too. The AS/AV appliance the bank had used for several years was proving ineffective against newer types of spam. Network performance began to suffer under the load.
To avoid any negative impact on the bank’s ability to serve customers, Streyle immediately began exploring new options.
In the same timeframe, UCB’s attorneys recommended to Streyle that he consider implementing an automated email archiving solution, to ensure compliance with industry best practices regarding email retention and retrieval. Traditionally, the bank had utilized PST files for archiving, which in essence left retention policy in the hands of each user. While PST files saved to the server were regularly backed up to tape, not all employees copied their files there, and finding and retrieving messages could take several days. “Any eDiscovery requests that came in would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill with 100 percent accuracy,” recalls Streyle.
Email continuity was another concern. Given the number of banking-related functions – such as online banking alerts – that are now automated, email has become absolutely essential to UCB’s operations. “Any email slowdown or outage—even just an hour—can have a major impact,” explains Streyle.
To reduce administration headaches and lessen the load on the bank’s network, Streyle preferred to implement cloud-based solutions. With key criteria in hand – effective AS/AV, automated archiving and business continuity – he set out to evaluate vendors.
Streyle initially believed he would need to purchase two or even three separate solutions to cover all the Bank’s needs. Then a colleague from another financial institution introduced him to Mimecast.
“We found that most vendors could deliver only one or two of our requirements,” he recalls. “When we found Mimecast, we were impressed by how comprehensive the solution was. And when we found out we could fulfill all three of our requirements for the same cost we had been paying for just Anti-spam/Anti-virus before – and for about half the cost of the onpremise solutions other vendors tried to sell us – we were sold.”
UCB’s implementation of Mimecast was “painless” according to Streyle. “We filled out some forms, provided IP addresses and opened a few ports on our firewall,” he says. “Mimecast did the rest. Implementation was that simple.”
Better spam blocking, reducing bandwidth
“Mimecast prevents an incredible amount of spam from entering our network,” Streyle says. “In fact, nearly 75 percent of all email sent to our servers—almost 1,000 messages per day—is blocked as spam. The lower overall email volume reduces the amount of traffic on our network, improving network performance for all of our users.” Streyle also credits lower email volume with improving employee productivity: “Everyone benefits when there are fewer spam messages to go through each day.”
Comprehensive business continuity
The bank’s employees rely on email to complete day-to-day bank operations, and Streyle notes that in those rare instances when he has to take an email server down in the middle of a business day, email service fails over seamlessly to Mimecast. “The transition is virtually invisible to users,” he says. “They can still access and respond to all email and view attachments. Our smartphone users especially love the Mimecast app that allows them to search their archive directly from their phone.”
In 2011, when catastrophic flooding in the Minot, ND area displaced thousands of residents and threatened the Bank’s offices, Streyle felt confident that the institution’s email resources were protected. “In the end, thankfully none of our facilities were impacted by the high waters,” he notes, “but we knew that if our server had been impacted for a day, a week or even a month, Mimecast would have kept us going. There is great peace of mind in that.”
Automatic email archiving
Mimecast’s automated archiving enables email users to find and retrieve archived email themselves in just seconds, and helped the bank implement and enforce its first email retention policy. “Previously, email was stored on local computers or on our local Exchange server, then backed up to tape or disk,” Streyle explains. “If we needed to find
something, we had to restore it from the tape or disk, which was time consuming and cumbersome and could literally take days. Now, we can access what we need directly from Mimecast – it saves me a lot of time, and it keeps our attorneys happy.”
Mimecast reduced UCB’s local storage needs, which means a single Exchange server is now all it takes to ensure the bank’s day-to-day email operations. Streyle was also able to eliminate the server formerly used for AS/AV.