Cineworld is the UK’s only publicly quoted cinema chain. Founded in 1995 and with a turnover of £333.4 million (2009), it operates over 78 sites in UK and Ireland, 75 of which are multiplex sites with five screens or more. Cineworld aims to bring cinema-goers diverse and innovative content with 799 screens of which 481 are digital and 400 are 3D enabled.
Email communication supports everything Cineworld does from front-end transactions to back-office processing and other administrative functions.
As Head of IT Vincent McGann explains, each site has one standard email address which handles a significant amount of email traffic each day. There are also 100-plus individual onsite email addresses and approximately 50 remote workers. Altogether Cineworld has some 300 users in 78 locations. “Email has become more important as people like to have a record of their communication, so they tend to do more by email now rather than over the phone,” says McGann.
The biggest challenge was that each site has a standard email address e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org so there was a large amount of spam entering the network. McGann explains that by 2008, spam represented a large portion of incoming email and this was creating serious problems. Cineworld managed its email security in-house, which identified and deleted spam, but the sheer volume of unwanted messages meant that the system had to cope with much more email traffic than necessary.
Business continuity is critical to Cineworld. “Only when our email system goes down do staff realise how much they rely on it. Losing email for just one day would cause a fair amount of disruption,” says McGann. Systems administrator Qazi Hoq adds “server maintenance had to be scheduled weeks in advance so that users could allow for planned downtime.”
Storage space was another key consideration. “When email volumes increase, server costs can mushroom as archived emails take up a lot of server space” says Hoq. Before moving to Mimecast, Cineworld had no dedicated archiving solution, so emails were backed up to tape and stored on the servers in PST files.
The challenges associated with this ranged from a lack of email continuity, difficulties and delays in finding emails, data corruptions, and the length of time it would take to restore mailboxes when necessary. Cineworld needed to reconsider its email archiving strategy as the growing archive required expensive additional storage space and backup tapes, and maintenance was becoming burdensome for the IT team. Online archiving would reduce storage requirements, support compliance, and give users the ability to access their email correspondence quickly and easily, including messages that had been deleted from Cineworld’s system.
Mimecast’s always-on secure cloud-based email system eliminated over 99% of Cineworld’s spam problems. “There is a lot less pressure on our Exchange server now as Mimecast stops all spam in the cloud,” says McGann. Furthermore, users are not missing emails that may have been wrongly identified as spam. “Twice a day, staff are notified of messages that have been held by Mimecast and they have the ability to release any genuine messages.”
Thanks to Mimecast, email continuity is now assured in the event of any planned and unplanned outages. Remote workers can now access their email through Mimecast from any internet connection.
Cineworld had initially signed up to a standard 180 days of archiving, providing users with instant access to a searchable archive of all messages and attachments. “The big attraction was outsourcing email to Mimecast rather than having to run and maintain in-house systems,” says McGann. “As Mimecast had solved all our security issues, our priorities turned to email volume and archiving.”
It was straightforward and cost-effective to extend the service to include ten-year archiving. “As soon as we have completed the ingestion of our historical data we will be encouraging people to delete emails from our system; with Mimecast they will have a way to retrieve emails if they need to, without getting our busy IT team involved,” says McGann.
Ten-year archiving offers Cineworld major benefits from a legal perspective, as it provides a secure record of all transactions and correspondence with external parties and internal communications. It also saves significant costs. According to Hoq, outsourcing archiving to Mimecast is a lot cheaper than setting up and running an in-house archiving solution.
In summary, Mimecast has been a sound decision for Cineworld because it offers a complete email management solution to its current and potential future challenges. According to Hoq; “Mimecast supplies everything we need to archive our email and provide spam protection. Not only does it save us a significant amount of money, but the service has given us complete peace of mind.”
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