Mediterranean Shipping Company Reclaiming O365 Productivity

“We had literally thousands of PST files"

Shipping Freight

Email Restores with Symantec Enterprise Vault over EMC EmailXtender

Veritas (Symantec)
EMC EmailXtender
Enterprise Vault

Your ship has come in

From the bridge of Mediterranean Shipping Company’s newest ship, the MSC Daniela, the captain and crew look out onto a sea of shipping containers more than three football fields in length. The Daniela can transport 14,000 standard, 20-foot containers at a time, making it the largest container ship on the planet. Between its more than 400 vessels operated and managed by a staff of about 35,000, Mediterranean Shipping handles more than 10 million containers of goods each year. It’s a volume of transactions that demands robust communications.

The process of both importing and exporting entails a series of communications, declarations, and notifications that help track and manage the whereabouts of goods. “To export a product, the customer sends us a declaration of what is in the container, and that has to be reconciled with the country on the receiving end—whether they will let the product be shipped at all, or whether it has to be bundled in a specific fashion,” explains Fabio Catassi, chief technology officer for Mediterranean Shipping.

MSC Logo

Navigating by email

When the ship comes in, Mediterranean Shipping’s system automatically generates an email notification for the customer informing them to pick up the container. “Then the clock starts ticking,” Catassi says. “Once the container is in a port at a certain time, the customer has a free window to pick up their goods. If they wait too long to collect, it starts costing them.”

Managing the email trail for the pickup and delivery of that volume of goods each year could be a nightmare without the proper tools. It’s a lesson Mediterranean Shipping learned last year. “Our email archiving solution has got to keep track of everything going in and out of the company,” Catassi says. “It’s extremely important for us, because we keep track of everything by email.”

“Instead of taking up to two minutes to restore an email with EmailXtender, we’re able to do it almost instantaneously with Enterprise Vault.” – Fabio Catassi, Chief Technology Officer, Mediterranean Shipping Company

Getting off course

With thousands of emails coming in every day, and a company policy to keep a copy of all shippingrelated correspondence, Catassi and team needed to regain control over the company’s quickly expanding Microsoft Exchange environment. “We had literally thousands of PST files, and many of those were even in excess of the allowed two gigabyte size,” Catassi relates. “So, we had a constant problem of people corrupting the PST files and having to run tools to repair them. It was really out of control.”

Looking for a way to better manage and search its email stores, Mediterranean Shipping deployed EMC EmailXtender—a solution Catassi and team used for two years. However, it created new challenges for the company. “Our employees were starting to complain about the speed of the message retrieval,” Catassi recalls. Slow performance was causing lost productivity. “When someone needed access to an older email, they would click on the shortcut and it could take up to two minutes for the message to be retrieved,” Catassi says. “It was not a hardware-related delay. And at the least, it would still be a 10-15-second wait while the software retrieved the message.”

With the volume of new email growing and the need to retain old messages for its own contractual and legal purposes, Catassi and team knew they needed a solution to speed access to its own communications. “We reached a point when the journaling just wasn’t working on a regular basis, and we had the problem of not being able to go back and find an email the user needed to see,” he recalls.

Up to 100-fold faster email restores

Because the architecture of its old solution was actually restoring each retrieved message to the user’s inbox, the process was not just consuming employee time, it was adding to the problem of the company’s growing email storage. “It was actually compounding our email management,” Catassi explains. “If we say we have a goal of streamlining our email storage, then why would we want to be filling up our employees’ inboxes with old messages?”

So Mediterranean Shipping deployed Symantec Enterprise Vault to speed access to its stored emails while also providing a file archiving solution to reduce storage and enable rapid restores. The decision to move to Enterprise Vault was expedited by a migration tool offered by Symantec. “When we determined that there was a solution to help migrate the content of EmailXtender to Enterprise Vault, we knew Symantec was the partner for us,” Catassi says.

As soon as Mediterranean Shipping deployed Enterprise Vault, the retrieval response times increased significantly. “Instead of taking up to two minutes to restore an email with EmailXtender, we’re able to do it almost instantaneously with Enterprise Vault,” Catassi explains. “Symantec has a much better approach. If you retrieve an email, you’re viewing the archive of the message, not restoring it to the user’s mailbox. It means we’re improving our email restore time by 100-fold.”

“We were spending about $140,000 on primary storage with our previous solution. In our first six months with Symantec Enterprise Vault, we’ve already avoided a tier-one storage expenditure of $50,000.” – Fabio Catassi, Chief Technology Officer, Mediterranean Shipping Company

Projected savings of $140,000 per year

By moving emails and files off primary storage, applying deduplication, compression, and creating a searchable index of all archived information, Mediterranean Shipping will be able to reclaim five terabytes of tier-one storage, according to Catassi. The move is positioning Mediterranean Shipping to save six figures on its annual purchase of primary storage. “We were spending about $140,000 on primary storage with our previous solution,” Catassi recalls. “In our first six months with Symantec Enterprise Vault, we’ve already avoided a tier-one storage expenditure of $50,000.”

Share and share alike

Because Enterprise Vault can archive resources other than email communications, it offered Mediterranean Shipping a ready solution for its growing Microsoft SharePoint environment as well. “Our SharePoint is something that’s relatively new and growing by about a terabyte every year,” Catassi explains. “Unfortunately, not all of our communications come in by email. We still get faxes, and those have to be scanned and saved as images into SharePoint.”

It’s a solution that helps Mediterranean Shipping keep tabs on the status of the millions of shipping containers it transports every year, no matter how the message is delivered. “The fact that Enterprise Vault is not only a solution for email, but an archiving tool for SharePoint, file servers, and instant messaging, makes it the ideal, all-around archiving solution for our company.”