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February 23, 2011

“Email remains the centre of business communication”: Q&A with Peter Bauer, Mimecast founder and CEO

Jason Stamper talks to Mimecast about business email management and security, and how to minimise email security risks

By Jason Stamper

Peter Bauer, Mimecast CEO

The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 ranked Mimecast as the second-fastest growing tech company in the UK. Why do you think you have managed this despite the fragile economy?
In some ways, the economic downturn has helped us, in the sense that it has accelerated the shift towards cloud computing as a way for IT departments to do more with less. Our technology allows IT departments to reduce hardware footprint and manage fewer vendor relationships, without compromising the service they can provide to their email users.

But our success is also down to sheer hard work. Since Mimecast was founded in 2003 we have worked to build a best-of-breed cloud platform that tackles the complexity of corporate email, which we saw stifling IT departments.

During the recession we invested a significant amount of resource and effort into research and development, increasing this area by 50% in 2009. And at the beginning of last year we secured £13m in venture capital funding, to further fuel our innovation drive, invest in our channel programmes, and enable us to grow our US presence faster.

Do you think companies treat email as mission critical today?
Email remains the centre of business communication, with a high percentage of business information being stored in employee inboxes. As a result many employees will find themselves without the ability to work if the email server goes down.

Despite this, a staggering number of companies are not supporting email in the most effective way. Companies invest a lot in both security and archiving, but continuity is being overlooked in many cases. Effectively managing all three is the best way to insure the integrity of company email.

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So what should companies do to ensure that their email is as reliable as possible? Should everyone simply outsource their email continuity to someone like Mimecast?
It’s not about relinquishing control, but providing a more cost-effective and efficient service to end-users. IT departments need to ask themselves whether they really want to maintain in-house management of things such as anti-virus and anti-spam applications and running their own internal archiving systems.

Above all it’s the IT manager’s responsibility to ensure the safety, security and continuity of vital business information stored in email. In truth, many would be better off working with a cloud vendor who can facilitate all of this, and has advanced skills in security, archiving and continuity.

Most people think of BlackBerry email being pretty reliable already though, so what’s the real risk here?
Unfortunately, no matter how good the technology infrastructure there will always be occasions when downtime is inevitable. As such, IT departments supporting BlackBerry devices need to implement continuity services that complement all elements of the delivery infrastructure. Mimecast research found that half of the organisations coming to depend on the BlackBerry solution have no continuity system in place to ensure this kind of downtime doesn’t impact the business.

The Mimecast Continuity Service for BlackBerry is the first and only of its kind and provides uninterrupted access to email by communicating with the handset from the cloud. This means that, in the event of a Microsoft Exchange outage, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server failure and Research in Motion infrastructure downtime, no access will be lost.

And what about your e-discovery and litigation support solutions – wouldn’t a simple email search engine solve most of the e-discovery problems?
In today’s corporate environment organisations must be able to efficiently and effectively discover, manage and produce their electronically stored information (ESI) to meet the demands of legal and regulatory information disclosure requirements.

The truth is that many archives simply aren’t accessible digitally, making data collection a long and tedious process. Mimecast provides the tools necessary to rapidly execute email discovery while at the same time protecting against tampering, data loss and the possible harmful financial or legal consequences.

Mimecast claims it can save companies as much as 65% of their IT costs associated with email management, archiving and so on. How do those savings come about?
It’s not uncommon for Mimecast to replace multiple solutions from different vendors, each requiring distinct points of support and additional hardware. We strip out hardware and we provide one point of control and technical support to replace that patchwork solution the customer had previously.

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