Orlando Scott-Cowley
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Mimecast services now for enterprise Mac users. Plus an upgrade to Large File Send

Today we’re pleased to unveil both a new Mimecast for Mac native app and a major upgrade to our popular Large File Send (LFS) service.

Mimecast for Mac

We know that today’s office has a mixture of PCs, Macs and mobile devices, and IT managers often have to battle to support the same level of email continuity and security, as well as archive access across all these platforms. With this in mind, we developed the new Mimecast for Mac app – it delivers the capabilities and ease of use previously only available to customers using Microsoft Outlook for Windows or the Mimecast web portal.

The new native app allows Mac users to search their personal email archive, effectively manage their spam and gain access to their full email account when Exchange goes down – enabling them to continue working normally. And, to help ease the burden on over-stretched IT administrators, Mac users can now be managed alongside existing Windows users from within the same central Mimecast Administration Console making their integration seamless and straight-forward. A video explaining the Mimecast for Mac app can be found here.

Large File Send Upgrade – Enabling Secure Collaboration

LFS allows users to send files up to 2GB securely and directly from within Outlook or the new Mimecast for Mac app. It’s a simple matter of attaching the large file as normal and pressing send – Mimecast does the rest.

LFS allows users to securely send and receive files up to 2GB in size directly from within Outlook or the new Mimecast for Mac app.

LFS allows users to securely send and receive files up to 2GB in size directly from within Outlook or the new Mimecast for Mac app.

Before this, file size limitations put in place on Exchange by the administrator or by Office 365 made this difficult. To send large files, users were often forced to leave the safety of the corporate network by resorting to consumer file sending services in the cloud. Alternatively, IT administrators had to invest in complex and expensive specialist equipment on their network. Users became frustrated and their productivity was impacted. LFS puts a stop to that.

Today’s update makes it possible for the recipient of a large file sent by LFS to work on it and then use the same service to send it back securely, whether they are a Mimecast customer or not.

LFS enables collaboration on files, even when the recipient is not a Mimecast customer. They can send files back to the originator by simply dragging and dropping the files into a secure portal. The originator is then notified that new files are available to download. The shared files remain secure, on the Mimecast archive, and anti-virus and content-scanned throughout. Once the large file exchange is complete, the link expires.

IT administrators value the service because it also means, aside from the file remaining safe on the corporate archive at all times and subject to their security and content controls, it completely bypasses their infrastructure. It doesn’t impact network performance or weigh down email servers. It sits in the Mimecast cloud and is shared from there.

In addition, the new version of LFS features an improved user interface and offers the sender the option to turn off or on the access code required to download the file.

LFS gives users the functionality they need to perform their daily tasks and IT departments can rest easy knowing they are back in control of valuable corporate data. We think that makes everyone a winner.

If you’d like to find out more about the new version of LFS, a video explaining the service can be found here.

Both the new Mimecast for Mac app and upgraded version of LFS are available now.  

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2014: Cloud’s Victory Procession?

We’ve only been in the New Year a few weeks and it’s quickly becoming clear that 2014 is the year of the cloud. Even the committed laggards or cloud refuseniks are being compelled to move some services into the cloud.

But you would expect us to say that of course. As in all things, there’s always another point of view to consider. One of our older posts on the value of the cloud received a challenging comment that warrants a response. This comment gave us all the opportunity to reconsider why a commitment to cloud services makes sense for customers of all kinds and sizes, even those within regulated industries.

Barriers to cloud adoption have been broken down - initial reticence regarding data ownership in the cloud has been met with credibility built by vendors

Barriers to cloud adoption have been broken down – initial reticence regarding data ownership in the cloud has been met with credibility built by vendors

The comment challenged our stand on the cloud:

“…Regulation may require certain data controls/protections/audit trails which a Hosted product can’t provide and Exchange (Windows Server Standard plus Exchange software, backups, redundant power, etc.) remain cost prohibitive….”

Initially I was just going to post a response to the comment, but as it has been some time since the original post, I thought that it was worth bringing this discussion right to the top of our blog. Thank you John for taking the time to comment on the post – I hope this post acts as an update, a reassertion of our belief that the cloud is actually more and more an ideal solution specifically for companies of all sizes dealing with the additional pressures of regulatory control.

Most Mimecast customers face these issues. So why is the cloud the solution to their needs?

In the world of email, these industries have high demands on storing and accessing their data – they need sophisticated e-discovery capabilities, granular legal hold functionality, centralization of archives and rigorous compliance capabilities. They have a heavy security requirement too, of course.

The bottom line is that neither on-premise or cloud archiving solutions address these demands perfectly. But what is clear is that in terms of centralization of data, cost to the business, and time to implement, cloud has and will continue to be the better option. And it’s these powerful values which are driving business as a whole towards hosted services, including finance and legal.

As far back as 2011, data were beginning to emerge about this wholesale shift to cloud services. At that point, about one-fifth of companies had already moved their email archiving to cloud or hosted options, away from on-premise. In the same study a significant number of those maintaining capacity in-house had experienced failures in hardware and software implementations, and one third had lost emails – possibly as a result.

Also, remaining barriers have been broken down.

Initial reticence regarding data ownership in the cloud has given way to proof of credibility built by vendors providing well-trained engineers and experts available to support the service. These services offer parity with traditional options. For example, in the case of archiving, email should be stored in its original format mirrored to multiple locations. In addition, written into a vendor’s SLA should be a guarantee that the customer’s data will only be stored within appropriate jurisdictions, to ensure compliance with the regulations imposed in some sectors.

So to answer the original question, is the cloud always the solution? The answer is actually in a few cases it may not be for everyone. But as cloud services continue to mature, these exceptions will become few and far between.

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LinkedIn’s Intro App – There Might Be a Silver Lining

[Tweet "Your real social network, your most accurate social network--is your email contact list"]

You can’t have failed to notice the brouhaha surrounding LinkedIn’s Intro App; ‘security consultants’ from far and wide are ranting about the potential for the app to be a huge security hole or target for hackers, but very few, or none that I noticed, had spotted the silver lining here; there’s huge untapped potential built into the way we communicate and the 3rd party sources of data we could integrate into those communications.

Your real social network, your most accurate social network--is your email contact list

Your real social network, your most accurate social network–is your email contact list

Firstly, I’m not downplaying the security risk of routing your email through a 3rd party whose job it is to collect as much information about you as possible. Not to mention the serious security breaches LinkedIn suffered recently. But I think it is important to point out that for corporate users, LinkedIn’s app doesn’t (yet) support Microsoft Exchange; the only supported email platforms are Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud, so the imminent risk is related to personal information rather than corporate data.

Secondly, there is a silver lining to all of this; and if LinkedIn had thought about it, they could have exploited this idea in a much more business friendly way. Business users are, after all, their entire user base. As Google and Yahoo are finding out through the US Legal process, there are some obvious sensitivities to ‘scanning’ customers email for content; even if the scanning helps the provider serve up ads. I’m sure LinkedIn thought this through, but the poorly thought out implementation of Intro does make me wonder.

Back to the silver lining. Think for a second about two groups of users, if you will.

The first is a set of ‘contacts’ you’ve collected for quite some time; a group of people you barely know and communicate with rarely. These will be colleagues, both ex and current, people you ‘meet’ at meetings and at trade shows, recruiters, industry friends etc. In short a small network of people you mutually collect and connect to in the hope they’ll help you find your next employer.

Then there’s the second group; a dynamic list of constantly changing contacts, each individual waxing and waning in popularity as you work through your corporate life, and the various projects and tasks that make up your year. This is a group of contacts that self-prune’s and self manages its own pecking order—a group that changes in size, depth and breadth almost daily and one that auto-populates in terms of users and relevance as you move to job to job, company to company.

Of course the first group is your LinkedIn contacts, and the second is your email contacts. LinkedIn is very much static, and I see Intro as being LinkedIn’s way of helping you connect more, or to be blunt, gain more static contacts for their business model.

On the other hand your real social network, your most accurate social network–is your email contact list. I don’t mean your address book, I mean the real time dynamic set of people and email addresses you are communicating with right now; your sent items today, yesterday and the day before, the people you collaborate with the most. This is where the real value is, and where email service providers could really show you who you connect with, when, why and for how long. The dynamic nature of this group also means it’s up to date, as of right now, and importantly if you chose to you could extend your view into that group down several degrees of connection. Think about who you’ve emailed today, who those people are emailing, and who their contacts are emailing—that’s a real business social network. And all of that without getting a single email from a recruiter.

If LinkedIn Intro had helped us identify those live connections without intruding on the way we connect, that would really be an App, that would really be useful, and in an enterprise or business context it would be infinitely valuable.

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The Future of Enterprise Information Archiving Takes Shape

The concept of the interactive archive as the future direction of the Enterprise Information Archive is starting to take shape in the minds of CIOs and IT staff, who are trying to meet the new requirements demanded of their data. It’s a vision driven by the idea that archiving is about more than simply-storage or vault models we’ve become used to.

The Archive Unleashed

Visual representation of Forrester Research, Cheryl McKinnon’s presentation in The Archive Unleashed webinar

I’ve been speaking more about the concept recently, but it was ‘The Archive Unleashed’ webinar early in October, which highlighted how the idea was evolving. Cheryl McKinnon, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research who joined us for the discussion, called out the key battles grounds of ownership of unstructured data and migration of legacy systems as areas which will define how this vision will evolve.

Also, my presentations at one of Mimecast’s leading technology partners, Essential Computing, ‘Email Archive Migration Masterclass’ and IP EXPO have helped us refine the idea even further. At Mimecast we talk about an Interactive Archive and while this isn’t a specific product, it’s a vision that sets us and our customers on a journey to a more useful archive. Interactive Archiving is set apart from today’s EIA solutions by some important characteristics, which we can now define…

  • Value inherent to archive data: Most EIA solutions simply store, or vault, information. Extracting value from your intellectual Property therein is nigh on impossible. A significant part of our long term vision for your archive and its data, is to help you make the most of that data and the business intelligence locked in there.
  • A new type of Cloud: While cloud archiving isn’t new, most cloud solutions are just a point replacement for an on-premise archive. Outsourcing the data storage is all they can offer. An Interactive Archive is one that brings all the benefits of the cloud, and the innovation of a cloud vendor, to deliver more access, more uses cases, more advancements and more value.
  • End users are vital: Today, end users have very little aside from a clunky search. Our concept of interactivity of the archive comes from the consumption of information by the end users; in short how they access their data, and on which platforms–their key productivity apps like Outlook, through to dedicated Mobile OS apps to support them on the go.

The key principles above are hard for existing archive software vendors to deliver on, I’d go as far as to say, almost impossible. This is primarily a symptom of the way their software has been designed and how there is little or no roadmap for innovation into the future.

We think about our archive data within the confines, both physical and metaphorical, of the word “vault” and how data is simply retained, never to be seen again, let alone provide any value. Sadly, these types of archives are where your data goes to dies, never having the chance to become interactive for end users, and struggling at best to deliver results.

At IP EXPO I closed my presentation by encouraging the attendees to forget about the romance of the steam age, and forget their ‘old-style’ on premise archives. Steam powered computing if you will? These archives are killing your data, and worst still they’re stifling your organization’s competitive edge. It’s time to enlighten your users with the tools they need and empower your administrators with the controls and security they demand, as well as learn to look for the value in your own corporate big data.

‘Don’t just store information, use it’, is the way in which most progressive IT teams are translating the Big Data opportunity. It’s a perspective we should all get behind.