Denis is one of the world’s leading dental claims administrators, with operations in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Working through select medical schemes over the past 12 years, Denis has become the market leader in dental benefit management in South Africa and currently covers more than a million members for dental benefits. The team of over 140 staff members includes more than 50 contact center consultants, who route more than 2,000 calls daily from both service providers and members. Denis processes over 100,000 dental claims each month.
Denis first opened its doors in 1996 with a simple IT infrastructure that included POP email and basic backup systems. “And that was just fine at the time,” says Stanton Johnson, head of Information Technology at Denis. “It sounds totally ludicrous now but you must remember that 1996 was a long time ago. It was before Google. It was the year Hotmail launched and Dolly the clone sheep was born. Everyone was using Internet Explorer 3, and Motorola StarTAC was the coolest phone around. So trust me, a tape backup every other week was seen as a perfectly reasonable way to keep track of information.”
Not so now. The parallel growth of the organization with the importance of email as the primary communication medium between the claims administrator and its customers meant that in 2007 the company made the move to a Microsoft Exchange Server. It didn’t take more than a few years before the Exchange email environment became a challenge to manage in terms of archiving and restoring. The IT department realized how much risk Denis could be exposed to if there was ever an extended period of email downtime.
“Access to emails is critical to the business. On average we receive over 70,000 inbound and send over 75,000 emails per month,” says Johnson. In 2007 we were still receiving up to 8,000 faxes a week. This is now down to just 2,000 a week; the other 6,000 faxes are now emails. In fact, it’s all received as email anyway as we now run on a fax-to-email service.”
“The IT team members investigated various options and weighed up their costs against their ability to deal with archiving and quicker access to restored data. Options included redesigning certain areas of the IT environment, which would occur additional onsite hardware costs and additional IT processes to deal with the current ones. At the time it would take up to two days to retrieve a lost email as most data was offsite on tape and still had to be restored.
“Another challenge was implementing a disaster recovery system. We looked at the cost of the exchange server at our disaster recovery site at another location but, as you can imagine, the costs were prohibitive. Also, the disaster recovery strategy still didn’t address sudden unexpected outages. We realized that we needed business continuity onsite as much, if not more, than a disaster recovery plan, and we needed to speed up and streamline the way in which old emails could be recovered.”
The Mimecast Unified Email Management service offered Denis the security, archiving, compliance and continuity features it needed. “Mimecast was the obvious choice as it takes care of everything. Inbound and outbound email archiving happens before the email has even left the network. It even archives internal mail. We know that our email is compliant, there isn’t any panic about viruses entering our infrastructure via email, and our spam levels have dropped significantly,” says Johnson.
The decision to implement Mimecast’s Software-as-a-Service offering, instead of clustering and replicating an exchange environment in the disaster recovery space, has saved Denis a significant amount of money. Another area of cost saving comes from Mimecast’s bottomless email inbox. “Denis sends and receives up to 7,000 emails per day. The capital expenditure needed to store this information would have been considerable,” says Johnson.
“Cost isn’t the only benefit, and from my perspective, it isn’t even the most important. It’s continuity. Our business still has full 24/7 access to email even in the event of an internal mail server error. From both a service delivery and support perspective, implementing the Mimecast service has been incredible. We can now manage the quality of the Denis email system in terms of archiving, restoring data, on and offsite continuity and its ability to retrieve email and sort through quarantine folders. We don’t worry about the next virus attack,” says Johnson. “We can now spend our time on business rather than such mundane tasks.”
“We have empowered our staff members to manage their own mail, and the whole company thinks it’s the best thing IT has ever done. It’s improved the way to do things in the business and in IT. If the exchange server goes down, business can still continue, which means no chicken- without-head confusion by staff and results in better decision-making in a crisis from the IT department,” says Johnson.
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