“We are delighted with the partnership with Shrobe Consulting and Micro Focus. The Retain and Archive Disaster Recovery solutions are a fundamental part of our infrastructure and there is no doubt in my mind that they will remain so far into the future.”
Head of ITT and Facilities
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is one of the largest trade unions in the UK, with about 200,000 members. It is organized throughout the civil service and government agencies, making PCS the UK’s largest civil service trade union. PCS campaigns for fair pay and conditions, decent pensions for all and equality in the workplace and beyond. Its main office is in London and PCS also has regional offices throughout the country, employing just under 200 people.
With its email infrastructure firmly rooted in GroupWise®, Micro Focus GroupWise Disaster Recovery, powered by Reload, saved the day on a couple of occasions when servers crashed and data was potentially lost. The solution performs nightly backups of the PCS GroupWise system. These backups are then made available via a standard GroupWise Post Office Agent to which PCS users can connect to recover their mail in the event of a system failure.
When PCS decided to move its company email service from GroupWise to Office 365 suite, it needed to address its email retention policies, as Andrew Simpson, Head of ITT and Facilities at PCS, explains: “GroupWise could hold a lot more mail than Office 365 could. We were facing the choice of a further substantial cost to invest in more Office 365 mail servers to hold our existing emails, or finding an easily accessible mail archiving solution. We were already disrupting our users by moving email system, and wanted to find a solution which would make the migration as seamless and transparent to the end users as possible.”
The positive experience with GWAVA (now Micro Focus) solutions over the past 10 years meant that although PCS was moving away from GroupWise, the commitment to Micro Focus remained strong. Simpson turned to Shrobe Consulting who had supported the PCS email infrastructure for many years. Retain™ for Office 365 proved the ideal solution. Retain securely archives Office 365 email, appointments, files and attachments. This data is archived in one central location, which can be accessed by PCS users directly through Retain’s Web Access Archive Viewer.
Simpson explains how Retain has helped in the GroupWise to Office 365 migration: “Shrobe helped prepare our user base really well for the email migration, with quick user guides and onsite user training that kept everyone engaged in the process. We used Retain to archive all mail items older than a year, but because the users had been involved throughout and knew how to access their archived items, that proved no issue at all.”
As a trade union holding membership data, PCS is regularly audited, and data security and backup are closely scrutinized. Because PCS is sometimes involved in legal matters on behalf of its members, all relating documents need to be retained for seven years. Using the Micro Focus Unified Archiving solutions has helped here, as well as in other cases, as illustrated by Simpson: “We are audited for insurance purposes and have seen our premiums go down, as we can demonstrate a fully comprehensive approach to disaster recovery, backup, and email archiving with Retain and Archive Disaster Recovery. We can easily accommodate data requests in line with the UK Freedom of Information Act, as Retain data can be exported into PDF or Excel.”
PCS can see further potential too, with plans to introduce the Retain Outlook plugin, so that archived email messages can be searched and accessed directly from within Outlook. Including digital projects, such as the PCS website and social media channels, is also on the roadmap.
The GroupWise to Office 365 migration was completed successfully, and the reduction in mail box sizes means that users can open their mail box faster, giving productivity gains. A nightly archive ensures all data remains current and available to the users.
Simpson comments: “With the effective Retain email archiving, we were able to decommission some mail servers in our regional offices, giving immediate cost savings. The optimum disaster recovery strategy, powered through Archive Disaster Recovery, has reduced our insurance premiums.”
He concludes: “Most importantly though, our users are happy and felt well supported throughout the migration process. We are delighted with the partnership with Shrobe Consulting and Micro Focus. The Retain and Archive Disaster Recovery solutions are a fundamental part of our infrastructure and there is no doubt in my mind that they will remain so far into the future.”