Law firm evaluates the rising cost of in-house email solutions

About Miles & Stockbridge

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Miles & Stockbridge is a preferred law firm for Fortune 500 industry, major financial institutions, private businesses and not-for-profits in the community of Baltimore, Washington, and Northern Virginia. CIO Ken Adams manages information systems for eight offices, running multiple disparate Microsoft Exchange information stores, along with the intrinsic security, continuity, information management and policy keeping.

Four different applications provided solutions for their IT needs, all running in house, side by side, but not in sync. With a corporate culture based on integrity and excellence, Miles & Stockbridge needed to upgrade the integrity and excellence
–and utility– of its mail store.

The Rising Cost of In-House Mail Solutions

Each one of the IT applications Adams was using provided one or two features, but no single application addressed all of his email pain points. In one case, their archiving package was limited by the amount of email it could handle. Miles & Stockbridge has a simple retention policy: keep everything forever. Scalability was not an option for Adams concerning the company’s email archive; his policy is to archive everything, all the time.

The next program he tried was a step up in capacity, but presented a limitation in stubbing – a process which captures email attachments and replaces them with a stub file or link so hefty documents (and in the legal field, most documents are of exceptional size) don’t eat up too much disk space. Sometimes stubbing frees up disk space, but causes sluggish Exchange server performance.

Adams tried another program to circumvent the stubbing issue and it provided excellent performance on email archiving, but fell short of the business continuity benefits he needed. A third pain point was with the hosted solutions he used for antivirus, anti-spam and malware filtering. Several different applications limited the capacity of his email storage, creating a mounting problem for his save-everything-forever information policy.

Adams had to purchase and install each one of these applications in order to evaluate them. It was not until he had invested the money and time to get a new application running that he learned where it thrived and where it fell short. The man hours required to install, run, evaluate and update these disparate IT solutions was draining the resources of his
modest IT staff.

Human resources are much more costly than hardware and in any field where IT is not the company’s core competency, this creates a dangerous imbalance. The dollar value on a team member rises exponentially based on tenure and trust, which lands a lot of the IT responsibility in a law firm on the CIO.

“You can’t put a general tech in charge of everybody’s email,” Adams says, referring to the delicate nature of communications in a litigious environment. “Getting the responsibility off my plate was huge.” Also, the money required to host a bottomless mail store in eight offices required a change in this CIO ’s hosting philosophy, thus Adams embarked on an initiative to retain more holistic technology outside of the firm.

The Low-Cost Solution in Cloud Computing

A growing trend that is custom fit for companies like Miles & Stockbridge is using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to deliver IT applications “in the cloud” – eliminating costly infrastructure, along with storage limitations, management time, and ongoing maintenance costs. SaaS reduces overhead and power consumption, in addition to floor space and the need to train and retain IT staff.

It is also rapid to deploy. In customary fashion, Adams came across Mimecast Unified Email Management in the habit of researching continual improvement for the firm’s email management needs – only this evaluation unearthed a winning solution.

“Mimecast provided the services of three or four different products in one solution,” Adams reports, who employed Mimecast to handle archiving, continuity, security and storage issues. The dollar savings on the software alone was a 50 percent improvement at least, but this was second to the amount of administration time Adams saved with Mimecast.

“The management of those four different programs alone was more costly to my department than the money I spent in licensing. Just the indexing alone is a full time job. When one application crashes, it takes days to rebuild. The same goes for document management. With Mimecast, there is nothing for me to manage. This is a dream!”

Once he selected Mimecast, he had it fully operational within 48 hours. “It’s kind of like buying a car,” said Adams. “When you find the one you want, you want to drive away with it. I believe we saw the demo and I made the decision that night.”

Adams has to maintain servers in each office because his users all authenticate to their local office, but every document for the firm now resides centrally with another third party document management system and all the firm’s email scanned and archived in the cloud using Mimecast Unified Email Management.

Security was a concern Adams had with cloud-based mail management, but Mimecast provided substantial proof in its architecture that a breach is not possible. Now the firm’s archiving, email filtering, virus scanning and any other email management solution that was hosted in house was replaced with Mimecast. Adams was relieved. “No server, no software, no management. No brainer.”

Responsive Support = Continuous Improvement

Following the selection of Mimecast’s service, Adams discovered another added value – a responsive support team. For instance, Adams had been accustomed to getting an email summary of the spam that was blocked each day. The use of a white list – or black list –is critical in keeping the wrong kind of mail from entering the system.

Since email is considered as documentation in discovery, the control of email in the queue is critical. The audit trail has to be scrubbed clean in order for email to be useful as evidence, which means that some mail is blocked. A daily digest brings this list to the attention of users, so if material information is blocked in the queue, users can catch it and retrieve it in real time.

Once Adams brought this up, Mimecast adapted its reporting structures. Improvement is an ongoing process and Adams is happy to have Mimecast as a partner in that effort. “I rely on all my vendors to respond quickly to my needs. Ease of use is paramount. Bar none, Mimecast support has been tremendous,” exclaimed Adams. “I didn’t have to justify any costs. Law firms are very picky and sometimes difficult to deal with,” he reminds, “but Mimecast has paid for itself already. We’re very pleased.”