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Lewis Furniture Group eases e-mail exasperation

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JSE-listed Lewis Group has implemented Mimecast's Unified Email Management
to ensure business-critical email is always available, and to provide vital
archiving functionality.

Mimecast UEM provides Lewis with hosted email management that gives
enterprise-class email redundancy and security, with powerful Internet-based
and "Internet speed" search functionality to allow users to conveniently
find stored information or perform e-discovery. All this, without needing to
invest in any additional staff or systems infrastructure ­ and in a
second-generation pure-play Software-as-a-Service architecture that will
grow and scale as needed.
The Lewis Group, founded in 1934, is best known for its Lewis furniture
retail stores, South Africa¹s largest single furniture brand with over 400
stores around the country. The Group also operates 79 Best Electric
appliance and consumer electronics stores, and 19 Lifestyle Living branches.
The Lewis Group also owns Monarch Insurance, which provides short-term
insurance for goods brought on credit. It has an extensive computer
infrastructure, with over 3 500 workstations across its stores nationwide,
with over 500 users in its corporate headquarters in Woodstock, Cape Town.
E-mail is an increasingly important part of its business, mostly within the
head office, where staff need to communicate internally, as well as with
suppliers, agencies and partner organisations. While the Lewis Group's
existing email systems were up to the task, management had increasing
concerns about information systems being affected by power reliability, as
well as the need to comply with records keeping legislation. The company
wanted a more comprehensive approach to email management and business
continuity, now, and into the future.
"While email was seen as an important tool for the business, a few power
outages made it very clear that email is absolutely business critical.
Rebuilding a mail store or restoring a workstation takes valuable time, and
puts the business at risk. Building redundancy into our mail system was
desirable, but would have meant a lot of additional costs in the form of
dual redundant ISP links, hot-swap servers and extra backup, as well as a
lot of complexity. Mimecast could give us all the redundancy we needed,
without any of the costs of doing it ourselves," explains Gareth Hawkey, GM
for IT for the Lewis Group.
With Mimecast UEM, all outgoing and incoming mail passes through Mimecast's
servers, which are housed in a carrier-class, triple-redundant data centre.
The mail then passes through to Lewis Group¹s mail servers for distribution
to each person. Mimecast provides complete message hygiene: no spam,
guaranteed zero percent false positives or malware, and automatic,
hassle-free white lists. These promises are backed by punitive SLAs, where
Mimecast pays clients back if it fails to keep its promises.
Mimecast UEM also provides message archival with powerful, split-second
search features, and guaranteed availability (if Lewis Group¹s servers or
client computers are offline, messages can still be accessed via a secure
Web session, or through a plugin for Outlook, or via a mobile device).
Furthermore, Mimecast provides the group with a highly customisable way to
automatically add standard disclaimers and other messages to outgoing
e-mail.
"Managing disclaimers on our email was becoming important as we are a
JSE-listed company. While the ECT Act is still not ratified or tested in
court, we wanted to err on the side of caution. The same applies in terms of
records retention, where emails are considered as formal business
communications that have to be archived securely," adds Hawkey.
Mimecast allows users to have standard disclaimers and signatures, which can
also be dynamically set to allow different messages to go to different
recipients, allowing email to become a way to send targeted marketing
communications within a managed corporate identity.
"This implementation with Lewis Group is a perfect example of how Mimecast
UEM can take an intractable business and technology problem, and reduce it
to a very affordable monthly charge per user, without any disruption to the
business, and without any changes in how the end-users use their computers,"
says Garth Wittles, MD of Mimecast South Africa.
"At a stroke we solved their need for additional equipment to provide
archival or message security, gave them a number of additional, powerful
tools such as comprehensive search and dynamic message signatures, along
with 'anytime, anywhere' message access via the Internet or mobile device."
A major advantage of a hosted solution from Mimecast is that as it is a
second-generation hosted OSoftware as a Service¹ implementation, it does not
require any significant changes or upgrades to the existing email systems ­
just a few server configuration settings. The Lewis Group has a mix of
systems, with Microsoft Exchange 2007 servers talking to Outlook XP and 2007
clients.
The Lewis Group's origins date back to 1934 when one Lewis store was opened
in Woodstock, Cape Town. Today Lewis Stores is the largest furniture chain
by number of stores in South Africa.
"There were a lot of options available to us in terms of archival, signature
management, anti-spam and anti-malware, but only Mimecast put it all
together," says Hawkey.
The implementation was rapid. Lewis Group spoke to Mimecast in February,
conducted internal reviews and signed off on the implementation in March,
and was live by April on a two-year contract. The group has started with
short-term archiving, and will push it up to 10 years as it is validated.