Case Study

Email archiving SaaS cuts costly contract disputes for designer

Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer

Email archiving products are typically used to retain data for regulatory compliance or to offload data from primary storage for improved storage management. But one interior design firm in New Jersey and its solution provider found that email archiving Software as a Service (SaaS) from MXsense Solutions Inc. can save money solving contract disputes.

Albert Benavides, vice president of operations for New Jersey-based interior design company Aldo Design Group, said communications in his business have gone digital over the past few years. If a partner, subcontractor or customer wants to dispute something about an order after the fact -- the way tiles are installed on a floor, for example -- finding those email communications is key.

This left Benavides "spending a lot of time trying to find information" in the company's email boxes to resolve the contract dispute. The company was also running out of space to retain all its email data on its primary server, and moving data to tape wouldn't have solved the information-retrieval problem. Nor would managing 35% more storage per year to accommodate the company's growing email data.

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Benavides' solution provider, CiBan, has the same founder as MXsense, and CiBan consultant Dominic Huzar brought the MXsense email archiving SaaS in to solve Benavides' problem. MXsense was founded by CiBan founder Paul Banco in 2004, but the companies say that is the only link between them. According to Benavides, CiBan has been his consultant for the past five years, but MXsense was only installed last October after the email search problem became apparent.

Huzar said he also sells Dell Inc. servers to Aldo Design, and Benavides investigated Dell's MessageOne email archiving SaaS but found MXsense's Web-based repository easier to use.

"MXsense offers a very lightweight type of Google-like search that appears exactly like Outlook Webmail," he said. "Other [email archiving SaaS offerings] had so much structure to them because they're compliance-focused."

Another difference between Dell's offering and MXsense's: MessageOne prices according to the number of mailboxes, while MXsense charges for storage used. Benavides -- whose Microsoft Exchange database is about 60 GB -- prefers MXsense's model.

CiBan's Huzar signed Aldo Design Group up for the service and created a journal email inbox that the email archiving SaaS would draw from. "We had to make sure to massage the Exchange server a little bit" to send the envelope information the service required for indexing messages, he said. "We had to do some updates from Microsoft to get blind carbon copy (BCC) and distribution list information to show up."

Two weeks after the service was up and running, Aldo Design Group was involved in arbitration to settle a dispute over invoices with a home builder it had worked with. "We were able to pull all the emails from the field foreman and accounting," Benavides said. "When the builders stated they hadn't received a copy of our invoice, we were able to pull out their response to it. We ended up getting 95% of it paid."

Most disputes don't go through such a formal arbitration process, and Benavides said he's hoping to make that an even rarer occurrence.

"We're now able to say, 'You never told us that' if there's an issue," he said. "In today's business environment, that saves money."

In another instance, a builder said that tiling on a floor had been installed the wrong way. If Aldo had been found at fault, it would have cost $7,000 to replace the tiles. Searching emails in MXsense settled the contract dispute and saved Aldo that money. "That basically covered MXsense in one instance, and it's happening daily," Benavides said.

Like many comparable data archiving products, MXsense might broaden its appeal by archiving more types of content than just email. Huzar said archiving and indexing .wav audio files would be helpful for his client. "Unified messaging being so strong, it would make it possible to also archive voicemails," he said.

As a solution provider, Huzar said he's found MXsense a good channel partner. "There are a lot of features we've asked for. Nine out of 10 have made it into the product," he said. "They're nice to the channel as well. They do sell direct, but would rather go through the channel."

This was first published in June 2009

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