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Altour chooses cloud-based service for e-mail needs

To travel company Altour, e-mail is crucial. It’s not only the primary mode of communications for travel agents and other staff, it’s also embedded in many automated aspects of the business, such as reservation confirmations. The company has 1,000 e-mail users, half of which are in the United States.

Altour realized that an e-mail outage would be disastrous to its business, and by 2008, much of the IT team’s time was spent shoring up the company’s e-mail infrastructure to avoid such an event. The firm was also concerned about e-mail archiving, and at that time, backed up its Exchange server weekly, which required a large amount of disk space and was time-consuming.

Manny Amare, IT director at Altour, estimates that the network administrator spent about 25 percent of his time each week on e-mail archiving issues. And once e-mail was archived, it was difficult to retrieve. Another issue was overall e-mail administration. Altour’s 14-person IT team was split between New York and Los Angeles, and supported users in nearly 70 other locations worldwide, so most of the offices had no local IT staff.

When the time came for Amare to decide between buying another server to store archived e-mail or making a change, he learned about Mimecast from Altour CIO Dale Bundy. Mimecast describes itself as providing the only end-to-end solution for unified e-mail management in the cloud--a fully SaaS-based solution that covers archiving, discovery, business continuity, security and policy management.

Altour officials decided to choose Mimecast to cover not only its archiving and business continuity needs, but also to replace its aging anti-spam/anti-virus appliance, which was due for upgrade or replacement. That savings, coupled with avoiding the purchase and maintenance on an additional server, helped make the business case for investing in Mimecast. It also helped that Mimecast was a service rather than a capital investment, according to Amare.

“We liked Mimecast’s cloud service model,” he says. “We’re a travel company--we didn’t want to be in the messaging business. I liked the idea of outsourcing it to experts so we could focus on our core business.”

In September 2008, Amare oversaw the implementation of Mimecast to Altour’s 500 users across 70 locations in the United States.

“Our e-mail setup is not like that of most companies,” he explains. “Altour has done a lot of acquisitions. We have a complicated infrastructure, with five different e-mail services and a lot of different domains. There are many legacy systems, cross domains and forwarding servers. This was not a straightforward implementation, yet Mimecast was able to accommodate all of our idiosyncrasies. Everything went smoothly, and the support we received from Mimecast was outstanding.”

Mimecast reports the following results:

  • Outsourced e-mail management frees Altour’s IT staff to focus on innovation.
  • Archiving is now automated—data is stored securely off site and is easily retrievable via the Web.
  • Inbound e-mail volume is cut in half due to better spam coverage.
  • Altour added disaster recovery and business continuity.

“We’re very happy with our decision to go with Mimecast,” Amare says. “It’s had a major impact on the quality of our e-mail services, and on the efficiency and effectiveness of our IT team.”

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