Forrester's Rethinking Where Your Email Lives

This is something that I’ve bought into for a long time and has shaped Mimecast’s approach to Software-as-a-Service.  While ultimately the cloud will change how we use our applications and where we store our data, many organizations have large investments in on-premise applications and users have got used to the client applications that they use day-in day-out.

With regards to email management services specifically, I look at a service like Mimecast’s as a utility, like that provided by a water company.

A water company undertakes a series of complex operations, it pumps water out of bore holes or rivers, pumps it into a reservoir to manage peaks and troughs in supply, puts the water through filtration and fluoridation and eventually pumps it to the consumers premises.   Homeowners could choose to do this themselves: they could apply to the Environment Agency for a water extraction licence, build a pumping and filtration works and a storage facility – but why bother?  Economies of scale mean that it is better to pay a specialised company to handle all of this for you and abstract the complexity and cost away.  Service Level Agreements exist between the consumer and the water company with regards the quality and availability of supply, and a water company can, on the whole, do a better job than a single user.   The point of deliniation between responsibility for water supply between the water utility and the consumer is at the edge of the consumer premises, with the in-house pipes and the tap being the responsibility of the homeowner.

Mimecast performs a whole host of complex functions including ensuring email is malware free, applying corporate policy, ensuring email service remains continually available and ensuring retention for corporate governance, litigation protection and regulatory compliance.  Mimecast ensures the quality and availability of email through its Service Level Agreements.   The user benefits from the focused specialisation on email, and the economies of scale of a purpose-built Software-as-a-Service platform.  Through the use of Mimecast Services for Outlook, Mimecast Services for Exchange and our Active Directory integration customers maintain their local delivery mechanism, the ‘tap’ of email – the Exchange server – while removing all of the other complicated and expensive infrastructure.

Allowing users to continue to use Microsoft Outlook in exactly the same way they would with local email was a goal of Mimecast from the very early days of our service – drag-and-drop recovery of deleted email; email flowing into the user’s regular Inbox even during an Exchange outage; the ability to drag incoming email into Document Management System folders even during an Exchange outage; and the ability to search potentially decade’s worth of email stored within the cloud just as you would search a local PST file or Exchange server.

Trying to gain user’s acceptance of new ways of working is always an uphill and expensive struggle.  Organisations have also made significant investments in on-premise technologies. Mimecast’s seamless hybrid model was designed to cater for the needs of 56% of the market, what Forrester have recognized as the largest majority.  Only 28% wanted to fully outsource their email management and even less, 14% wanted to keep it all in house.