The Gearhouse Group is a South African provider of event staging services and equipment for local and regional productions, ranging from small corporate launches to massive extravaganzas starring international artists.
The company has its head office in Johannesburg, with branches in Cape Town and Durban. In addition, there are nine technical management teams working at satellite and temporary offices in major venues around South Africa.
The time-critical nature of event production, along with the inevitable last-minute changes, means that for Gearhouse fast, reliable communications and absolute integrity in message archiving are a business imperative. The company had already done a major senior-level review of its processes and governance and needed to improve its messaging technology to meet its new standards.
Gearhouse looked for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) partner that could provide email archiving, hygiene, continuity and availability across its multiple server domains and numerous offices. It has 250 active email users and often as many as 5,000 emails passing through its mail servers daily. Gearhouse also wanted its service provider to reduce the time its IT department spent on mundane administrative responsibilities, and possibly even introduce ways to improve productivity.
Gearhouse’s archiving needs were immediately solved through Mimecast’s carrier grade data centers that store every message in a ‘bottomless’ archiving; safe but still instantly retrievable. The company originally archived all its email manually, saving information to tapes and storing them at an offsite location.
The ability for any user to find old messages quickly (along with the associated forensic audit trail) is very useful for proving that emails have been sent and received. “This can be especially important when dealing with contract queries, HR matters or just sorting out the odd misunderstanding before it gets too heated,” says Lourens Steyn, head of Gearhouse’s IT department.
Mimecast has a service-level commitment of almost zero content-based false positives on spam or malware, and does not need white-lists to identify legitimate messages. Because the spam-blocking technology is not content-based, it is less easily confused by strange messages: events can have an astonishing range of themes, and false positives were a problem for Gearhouse. Steyn explains, “We used to use Microsoft Forefront for Exchange for anti-spam, and when we were working on the Sexpo [adult-oriented exhibition] project, it was nailing a lot of legitimate email.”
Another feature that has proved invaluable to Gearhouse is that attachments are stripped out of messages and replaced with a clickable link to download them if and when the recipient chooses. When productions are being designed and set up, multi-megabit image and video files need to be exchanged regularly. “This attachment management is important for our clients and staff, especially when they’re working in other African countries where connectivity can be expensive and slow,” comments Steyn.
Spam was an enormous issue for Gearhouse. During Mimecast’s first month with Gearhouse, the reporting feature showed there was an average 45,000 illegitimate emails being rejected per day and only about 2,500 inbound messages passed through to the onsite mail servers. “The cost savings in both storage and bandwidth of stopping spam before it reaches our network are significant,” remarked Steyn.
From an employee workflow and collaboration perspective, Mimecast’s ‘smart folders’ are a great feature for Gearhouse. The smart folders are powerful, automated, real-time views on email conversations.
Gearhouse now has exactly what it needed, plus a number of unexpected additional benefits. “We were surprised at the speed and painlessness of implementation and the no-nonsense ability of the product to deliver on all the claims that had been made by the Mimecast sales team,” says Steyn.
“The IT department now spends an hour a week dealing with email as opposed to an hour a day. I am gaining a minimum of five hours a week. That’s several working days freed up that can be invested in something that actually matters, like security or compliance, rather than just trawling through email,” concludes Steyn.
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