Email is a Business Critical Communications Tool for LOROL

Context

London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) operates London Overground rail services on behalf of Transport for London (TfL). The London Overground rail service is a key component in London’s transport network. Serving 55 stations across 20 of London’s 33 boroughs, it carries 370,000 passengers on a typical weekday, and manages 117m passenger journeys each year.

All of LOROL’s office based staff depend on reliable access to email, which Gareth Murphy, Head of IT at LOROL, says is the organization’s most important application, “Email is the dominant format for communication across the business. It also plays an important role in customer communications, since the alerts that enable station staff to keep customers informed during unplanned service disruption are pushed to Android devices via email.”

However, LOROL’s email system, based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and an on-premise archiving solution, was failing to deliver against these business imperatives.

Challenge

In particular, LOROL’s archiving solution was unreliable, inefficient and made responding to audit requests difficult. The root of these problems lay in the complexity of the archiving solution in place.

“We’d archive most emails, leaving message stubs in place, but it was an inefficient solution that created more problems than it solved,” Murphy says. “It was very time consuming as searching and indexing was unreliable.”

LOROL had also outgrown its email continuity solution, which was based on a lengthy restore process that would leave the business without any email for far too long. “It would be four to eight hours to get our email flowing again if we suffered an outage,” Murphy points out.

Finally, these issues had prevented Murphy’s team from upgrading to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and the better redundancy it offers through Database Availability Groups. “We knew upgrading would solve some of our underlying problems but we also knew that the complexity that surrounded the existing archiving solution would make migration a risky and time consuming task.”

Solution

These issues, along with an almost total lack of support for LOROL’s existing archiving solution, led Murphy to look for an alternative.

“I knew we needed to simplify the overall infrastructure to enable us to migrate to Exchange 2010 and cut the support burden. We needed a single, integrated solution to solve our issues around archiving and DR, without compromising on security,” he says. “After researching the marketplace and meeting with Mimecast, I knew this was the solution we were looking for.”

Murphy’s experiences during migration only served to confirm that view. “Mimecast has a clear and logical, seven step migration process, so we always felt in control. There was no disruption to email services and the archive data export was far more straightforward than I expected. Migrating five years’ worth of email data to the Mimecast cloud archive was about as smooth a transition as you could hope for.”

Archiving without the headaches

“Moving to the Mimecast archive has solved a multitude of issues,” Murphy says. “Storage space is no longer a constant battle, we save a full day per week in terms of management time, and responding to audit requests is quick and easy. We now know we have a solution we can rely on, and one that can effortlessly scale with our storage demands.”

What’s more, Mimecast Archive Power Tools have enabled Murphy and his team to create a user experience that exactly matches that which LOROL staff are familiar with. They will still have the ability to file away emails, but the message stubs are gone, and archiving happens automatically, without the need for constant intervention from IT.

Always-on email

Mimecast Unified Email Management has also transformed LOROL’s email continuity - automatic failover and failback in real time ensures email continues to flow uninterrupted via the Mimecast platform during unplanned outages.

“These days, outages are both less likely and less of an issue. There is no four-hour battle to get email flowing again. Email remains available 24/7 no matter what, and there is no need for my team to do anything other than focus on getting the primary systems back up and running – Mimecast handles continuity for us.”

Migration ready

Murphy and his team now have the simplified, robust email management infrastructure they need to carry out a long delayed migration to Exchange 2010. “It is no longer something I think of as a risk,” he says. “In essence, we have replaced a solution that made upgrades a real headache - costly, time consuming and fraught with risk - with a solution that is permanently migration ready.”

London Overground Rail Operations Limited
Sector: Transportation
Size: 500 End Users
Location: UK
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