Tapping into business aligned services

Email is often taken for granted, it is a critical business application used to communicate with colleagues, customers, suppliers and business partners.  It is used to negotiate contracts, confirm appointments, accept orders and now email has  even replaced the venerable pager, with network devices emailing system notifications to handheld email devices instead of paging them.

Users only tend to notice quite how important email is to them when it is taken away.  Mimecast's CEO, Peter Bauer, recently undertook an experiment, which was documented by the Financial Times, to go without email for a week.  Peter quickly noticed that email wasn't just a mechanism for communication, it was now the formal and informal path that almost all information takes within organisations.

This got me thinking about water - sounds like bit of a leap but bear with me.  Water is critical for both hygiene and to sustain life.  Yet many of us in the UK turn on the tap and simply expect water of drinkable quality to come out.  Interruptions to service cause an outcry and a degradation in the quality prompts an investigation from regulators and potentially even legal action.

I was in the West Indies visiting my in-laws a couple of weeks ago, collecting drinking water involved climbing 200 metres up a mountain road to reach a spring.  The spring water became undrinkable for two days due to tropical thunderstorms, resulting in an 8 mile drive to the nearest shop to buy bottled water.

Water consumers in the UK are largely ignorant of the effort involved in delivering their water - the extraction from rivers or bore holes; the purification and testing; and the pumping and distribution.  The Water utilities have successfully managed to abstract the difficulty of the issue away from the consumer - consumers turn the tap and drinkable water comes out.

Our aim at Mimecast is to deliver an email management service like a utility, with the cost and complexity abstracted away from the customer.  Users could choose to build and manage their own on-premise solutions for anti-malware, anti-virus, disclaimer management, attachment management, archiving......the list goes on.  In just the same way an individual could choose to pump, pipe and purify their own water, but why bother when there is a cheaper, easier and higher quality alternative?

In the current economic climate many IT departments are finding that their limited resources are better utilised maintaining competitive advantage rather than managing the technical components involved in on premise email management.

However, back in the West Indies clean and easily available drinking water isn't an option for many and unfortunately few people have the resources to build and manage their own infrastructure.  On the positive side, I did manage to loose some weight hiking up-and-down the mountain.