Stellenbosch Local Municipality governs the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Pniel, and the surrounding rural areas in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It oversees the delivery of a wide range of services for civil and corporate citizens and seeks to establish the region as the ‘innovation capital of South Africa’.
With 750 employees working across a diverse range of departments, the municipality relies heavily on email for communication. As a result, for ICT Manager Brian Mkaza, email is a significant focus – with availability, archive retention, compliance and security key concerns.
“Email is the primary communication and collaboration tool for the municipality, which means it ends up being a repository for all kinds of important information,” he said.
“That means the ability to find and restore even deleted emails is very important, as is email security. At the same time, issues around email archiving, security and audit trails are part of our stringent annual audit, so our systems need to support that.”
However, by the time Brian joined the municipality in early 2015, its existing email system – based on a range of disparate solutions- was struggling to support those demands, with archiving a critical issue.
“At that time the archive did not provide the retention we needed,” Brian explained. “For instance, if someone deleted emails we would not always be able to retrieve them. They would simply be gone. That was not good enough in cases where email was required to support investigations or litigation.
“What’s more, to comply with Auditor General audits we need to set out audit trails to show who has access to the archive, when and why. Pulling that information together wasn’t always a straightforward process either.”
Those issues, along with wider concerns around email security, and growing need to offer a corporate-sanctioned solution for mobile emailled Brian and his team to look for a new solution: “Ideally I wanted one solution to all those issues.”
At that time, Stellenbosch had a small Mimecast implementation in place. Brian set about investigating the benefits that could accrue from implementing the wider Mimecast Unified Email Management (UEM) solution – which offers asingle, integrated solution spanning cloud email archiving, security, continuity, mobility and more.
“It was immediately clear to me that Mimecast could bring our email systems up to date, giving us the cost benefits of a cloud solution while extending our archiving capability, strengthening compliance and security, and enabling staff mobility,” he explained.
Brian’s decision to go with Mimecast was quickly strengthened thanks to a seamless and problem free migration to cloud email management.
“We got great support from Mimecast throughout,” he said. “We started with a clear project plan, with every stage clearly mapped against roles and responsibilities. We felt like we were in safe hands at every stage; whenever we had a question one or both was able to step in and give us the answers we needed.”
Alongside that support, Brian’s team found Mimecast’s user training very useful: “Giving users, and the team, simple training on how to get the best out of Mimecast was really valuable in terms of accelerating user acceptance.”
The longer-term benefits of the move to Mimecast UEM were also quickly obvious, nowhere more so than in Stellenbosch’s email archive. The days of lost email and incomplete audit trails are gone for good.
Brian said: “The Mimecast Cloud Email Archive has transformed our email retention and the ease with which we can find and hold emails needed for investigations or litigation. All our email is now held in triplicate for 99 years as standard, so it’s easy to find any email, whether it’s been deleted or not. It’s now a job that takes minutes, not days.”
“The tamper-proof audit trials are really useful too,” he continued. “The audit reports we get from Mimecast make it very easy to comply Auditor General requirements and we can be confident that not even archive administrators can alter archive records.”
The benefits of the cloud archive are strengthened by the enhanced email security provided by Mimecast. Integrated with the email archive and offering layers of protection against malware, spam and advanced threats like delayed URL exploits and weaponised attachments, it keeps Stellenbosch’s data and users safe from hackers.
“Mimecast Email Security has transformed our defence against email borne attacks,” Brian said. “We can now be confident that our inboxes are defended against viruses and targeted attacks, and this is protection that again makes compliance with Auditor General requirements relatively straightforward.”
Mimecast has also made it easy for Brian to respond to growing user demand for mobile email access - a demand that had seen users turn to the free mail solutions that can compromise email security.
“Through the Mimecast mobile app we can give users simple, secure access to email via mobile devices,” Brian explained.
“That’s enabled us to get mobile email and BYOD policies approved by council. So far, mobile access has been rolled out to my team and will be available to all users soon. From what we’ve seen so far, I’m sure the users that want mobile access will love it.”
On top of all that, moving to Mimecast is also saving Stellenbosch Municipality money, and saving time for Brian’s team.
“Having email management in the cloud puts an end to archive and security updates, patching and hardware upgrades. That alone saves us alot of time and money."
“Added to that, we don’t have downtime events any more and the overall system is easier to manage. Take those benefits along with streamlined email discovery and audit, and it’s easy to see why Mimecast is the perfect solution for us,” he concluded.