Founded in Dubai in 1979 by Lal Ganwani, Lals Group has earned itself a reputation as being a beacon of retail change within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, bringing some of the best known retail and health & fitness brands to local consumers.
Libu Thomas is Group IT Manager for Lals Group with overall responsibility for IT across seven corporate sites, as well as all stores in the GCC region. When asked about the importance of email to Lals Group, he is unequivocal in his response: “Email is indispensable in managing our business. Even a few minutes of downtime is disastrous and leaves us vulnerable as an organization.”
The on-premise Exchange environment that Lals Group previously ran meant that Thomas’ role was admin intensive and email users were frustrated. Managing users’ mailboxes and ensuring corporate compliance was becoming increasingly problematic: “We were constantly battling against restrictive storage limits and users were struggling to decide which email items to archive in their individual .pst folders,” explains Thomas. “So, not only was archiving time consuming, it was not compliant and inconsistent from user to user.”
This process was a heavy burden on the IT department, which was receiving numerous calls on a daily basis to troubleshoot archiving and mailbox storage issues.
“When PCs crashed, mails were lost and there was no back up,” lamented Thomas. “Not to mention the cost; managing the company’s email effectively required specialist in-house expertise, which was expensive, and any infrastructure upgrades were costly in terms of the time involved. I remember when we upgraded from Exchange 2007 to 2010, I had to stay awake for 28 hours to oversee things and the pressure on the IT team to ensure a smooth delivery was tremendous.”
Finally, with costs and admin time spiraling, Thomas decided to assess cloud-based email archiving solutions.
The Group was keen to explore a hybrid approach; adding a cloudbased email solution onto their on-premise deployment of Exchange would bring significant benefits in terms of performance, security and high availability, while addressing any residual sensitivity locally around cloud security.
Thomas was left to decide between Symantec and Mimecast. “The problem with Symantec was that it was too disjointed from our existing systems. It didn’t seem at all integrated with the Outlook client and would have meant significant time and money investment on training for our users.”
On the contrary, Thomas was impressed with the seamless experience with Outlook the Mimecast solution offered.
“The simplicity of use was the feature that struck me the most upon initial contact,” he explained. “I’d be surprised if many users even noticed a change initially! It offered an intuitive, centralized control so that, coupled with the extensive ‘Knowledge Base’, the whole learning process was minimal. It’s just like using Outlook really, but with extra features!”
Mimecast Services for Outlook was just one of the many features that persuaded Thomas and his team to choose Mimecast. “Mimecast ticked so many other boxes for us, too. As far as I can tell, it’s the best solution on the market – especially for businesses like ours requiring a hybrid solution. Mimecast is also priced extremely competitively and it was reassuring to learn that Lals Group company data would reside in the UK. Everything about Mimecast just felt right.”
Another feature of Mimecast’s offering that impressed Thomas was its advanced eDiscovery and Archiving capabilities. As Thomas explained: “I did a comparison of eDiscovery times and found that Mimecast was significantly faster than Symantec, which was important to us with increasingly stringent archiving compliance requirements.”
Finally, because Mimecast was offering all the benefits of the multiple ancillary services the group was previously running, on a single, centralized email management platform, Thomas could see that Mimecast would simultaneously reduce complexity and cost for Lals.
Mimecast has delivered everything Thomas needed from an email management solution and has left him extremely satisfied.
“Mimecast has been overwhelming…..in a good way!” praises Thomas. “Our eDiscovery times have been cut beyond recognition - it now takes just seconds to retrieve a particular email - and the security features have been impressive, too.”
“Recently, we received an alert from Mimecast to tell us that one of our user accounts was sending out hundreds of emails. We would never have discovered that without Mimecast.”
“Best of all for me, though,” continued Thomas, “is the Outlook connector. That seamless integration with Outlook is what really sold Mimecast to me in the first place and now we have it, I’d say it’s the best feature.”
Without needing costly training, Lals Group users now have unlimited storage, saving valuable time in both searching for, and archiving, emails. As Thomas summarized: “It’s all there. It just works. It’s hassle-free and there are no longer hundreds of support emails running between the IT department and our users.”
From an administration perspective, there have been significant benefits for Thomas’ team, too. Prior to Mimecast, Thomas believes that – even without any archiving facility – he was spending approximately 20% of his time on Exchange Server maintenance. Now, with all the additional functionality the Mimecast UEM service brings, he believes it is more like 5%.
“I calculated our TCO when comparing Mimecast to an on-premise solution and it came to a $70,000 saving per year.”
Looking to the future, Thomas feels he is future-proofed with Mimecast, too. “Mimecast is a forward thinking company and I have been so impressed with its product roadmap,” he commented. “I can’t see I’d ever have any reason to change supplier. I would - and do – recommend Mimecast to anyone who asks. I honestly sometimes wonder how we ever managed without Mimecast.”