Lewis Furniture Group Moves to Mimecast to Ease Email Exasperation

    The Lewis Group, a major JSE-listed retail group, has implemented Mimecast’s Unified Email Management (UEM) to ensure business-critical email is always available, and to provide vital archiving functionality.

    Mimecast UEM provides Lewis with hosted email management that gives enterprise-class email redundancy and security, with powerful Internet-based and “Internet speed” search functionality to allow users to conveniently find stored information or perform e-discovery. All this, without needing to invest in any additional staff or systems infrastructure – and in a second-generation pure-play Software-as-a-Service architecture that will grow and scale as needed.

    The Lewis Group, founded in 1934, is best known for its Lewis furniture retail stores, South Africa’s largest single furniture brand with over 400 stores around the country. The Group also operates 79 Best Electric appliance and consumer electronics stores, and 19 Lifestyle Living branches. The Lewis Group also owns Monarch Insurance, which provides short-term insurance for goods brought on credit. It has an extensive computer infrastructure, with over 3 500 workstations across its stores nationwide, with over 500 users in its corporate headquarters in Woodstock, Cape Town.

    Email is an increasingly important part of its business, mostly within the head office, where staff need to communicate internally, as well as with suppliers, agencies and partner organisations. While the Lewis Group’s existing email systems were up to the task, management had increasing concerns about information systems being affected by power reliability, as well as the need to comply with records keeping legislation. The company wanted a more comprehensive approach to email management and business continuity, now, and into the future.

    “While email was seen as an important tool for the business, a few power outages made it very clear that email is absolutely business critical. Rebuilding a mail store or restoring a workstation takes valuable time, and puts the business at risk. Building redundancy into our mail system was desirable, but would have meant a lot of additional costs in the form of dual redundant ISP links, hot-swap servers and extra backup, as well as a lot of complexity. Mimecast could give us all the redundancy we needed, without any of the costs of doing it ourselves,” explains Gareth Hawkey, GM for IT for the Lewis Group.

    With Mimecast UEM, all outgoing and incoming mail passes through Mimecast’s servers, which are housed in a carrier-class, triple-redundant data centre. The mail then passes through to Lewis Group’s mail servers for distribution to each person. Mimecast provides complete message hygiene: no spam, guaranteed zero percent false positives or malware, and automatic, hassle-free white lists. These promises are backed by punitive SLAs, where Mimecast pays clients back if it fails to keep its promises.

    Mimecast UEM also provides message archival with powerful, split-second search features, and guaranteed availability (if Lewis Group’s servers or client computers are offline, messages can still be accessed via a secure Web session, or through a plugin for Outlook, or via a mobile device). Furthermore, Mimecast provides the group with a highly customisable way to automatically add standard disclaimers and other messages to outgoing email.

    “Managing disclaimers on our email was becoming important as we are a JSE-listed company. While the ECT Act is still not ratified or tested in court, we wanted to err on the side of caution. The same applies in terms of records retention, where emails are considered as formal business communications that have to be archived securely,” adds Hawkey.

    Mimecast allows users to have standard disclaimers and signatures, which can also be dynamically set to allow different messages to go to different recipients, allowing email to become a way to send targeted marketing communications within a managed corporate identity.

    “This implementation with Lewis Group is a perfect example of how Mimecast UEM can take an intractable business and technology problem, and reduce it to a very affordable monthly charge per user, without any disruption to the business, and without any changes in how the end-users use their computers,” says Garth Wittles, MD of Mimecast South Africa. “At a stroke we solved their need for additional equipment to provide archival or message security, gave them a number of additional, powerful tools such as comprehensive search and dynamic message signatures, along with ‘anytime, anywhere’ message access via the Internet or mobile device.”

    A major advantage of a hosted solution from Mimecast is that as it is a second-generation hosted ‘Software as a Service’ implementation, it does not require any significant changes or upgrades to the existing email systems – just a few server configuration settings. The Lewis Group has a mix of systems, with Microsoft Exchange 2007 servers talking to Outlook XP and 2007 clients.

    The Lewis Group's origins date back to 1934 when one Lewis store was opened in Woodstock, Cape Town. Today Lewis Stores is the largest furniture chain by number of stores in South Africa.

    “There were a lot of options available to us in terms of archival, signature management, anti-spam and anti-malware, but only Mimecast put it all together,” says Hawkey.

    The implementation was rapid. Lewis Group spoke to Mimecast in February, conducted internal reviews and signed off on the implementation in March, and was live by April on a two-year contract. The Group has started with short-term archiving, and will push it up to 10 years as it is validated.


    About Mimecast

    Mimecast delivers cloud-based email management for Microsoft Exchange, including archiving, continuity and security.  By unifying disparate and fragmented email environments into one holistic solution that is always available from the cloud, Mimecast minimizes risk and reduces cost and complexity, while providing total end-to-end control of email. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2003, Mimecast serves approximately 4,000 customers worldwide and has offices in Europe, North America, Africa and the Channel Islands.

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