A pan-European implementation of Google Message Security (GMS), deployed by Ancoris, has allowed heating system supplier Baxi Group not only to cut costs by consolidating on a single email security solution and provide greater email resiliency but also deliver a better experience to users by giving them the tools to effectively and easily manage spam and suspicious content themselves.
Baxi Group is one of Europe's largest manufacturers and distributors of domestic and commercial water and space heating systems, employing more than 5,400 people across Europe and with turnover exceeding €1 billion. The company has grown quickly through acquisition, and email security and filtering has been one of several areas where Baxi has looked to rationalise and consolidate the multiple IT solutions it found itself with as a result of the various mergers.
When Russell Morris, the Group's technical architect, joined the company in early 2007, Baxi operated from 45 independent locations. Between them, these sites were running around 15 separate solutions, from various vendors, for email security and spam filtering. Most of these products worked at a local level, dealing with the 70 per cent of email traffic which was spam or contained suspicious content only once it had hit Baxi's network. Based on his knowledge of cloud-based email filtering in his previous role for another company, Morris believed a cloud-based solution was the best option for Baxi. "My previous experience meant I was confident in the capabilities of cloud-based solutions, and that we could make it work here," he says.
Baxi evaluated the two main vendors of hosted solutions, MessageLabs—already in use in one part of the company—and Google Message Security. While Baxi felt at the time that the products were functionally similar, they chose GMS, delivered through Ancoris, in part because of Morris's good experiences with Ancoris and the GMS solution in his previous role.
Morris says those good experiences have been replicated at Baxi. "Ancoris wanted to understand our problems and our business, rather than just selling us a solution and walking away," he says. "They were supportive and diligent in the deployment planning stage, and they willingly and effectively integrated their deployment efforts with the wider integration work we were carrying out. The stability and smoothness of the GMS implementation definitely helped us deal with 'political' issues from local IT teams who wanted to keep their local solutions." Morris adds that Baxi has continued to be pleased with the level of service provided by Ancoris. "We've always found Ancoris helpful and supportive whenever we've had any issues," he says. "We really feel Ancoris wants to own our problems with us."
GMS is now protecting the inboxes of 3000 users, allowing Baxi to filter out spam and suspicious content on the perimeter of its network, so that only the emails it wants to receive enter its infrastructure. Users receive a single email each day showing them what has been quarantined, and can click on a link to download any mail they do want to see.
Allowing users to self-service in this way has reduced the load on Baxi's IT team. "Our internal service desk is seeing far fewer queries about spam, because users can manage their own quarantine lists," Morris explains. "Previously, users had to call the service desk to get quarantined mail unblocked. Through self-service, GMS allows our IT staff to be more efficient and to spend more time dealing with business issues, while it makes us more agile from a business point of view." He adds that end users are also much happier with the solution, commenting that, "We had a lot of positive feedback when we first implemented GMS."
Running GMS has also delivered a cost advantage to Baxi compared with managing the 15 separate email filtering systems it replaced. The IT team no longer has the time overhead of managing multiple SMTP gateways and is able to control all Baxi's domains through GMS. In addition, Morris says, implementing GMS has increased email resiliency. "If one of our mail servers goes down, mail gets queued by GMS and delivered once the server is back up. Previously, that mail would have been lost," he points out.
Baxi recently re-evaluated MessageLabs against GMS, as the end of its initial deal was approaching, and chose to renew its contract for GMS delivered through Ancoris. "We have confidence in the solution and the way it's working, and staying with GMS and Ancoris represented best value proposition for our business" Morris says.