SMX in Government

Case study - SMX in Government
"A critical factor is the issue of data sovereignty and data security. SMX filters all New Zealand customer emails in New Zealand, under New Zealand jurisdiction and control."
Thom Hooker, Chief Technology Officer, SMX
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More than 60 percent of New Zealand’s Government departments and agencies use SMX as their Cloud email filtering and security solution.

Customers include New Zealand Defence Force, Waikato District Health Board, Department of Conservation, Department of Statistics and a long and growing list of SOEs, CRIs, Local Government, and Health and Education customers.

Email filtering - just one reason to choose SMX

The initial success of SMX in Government has reflected a common preference for a Cloud email filtering solution that can be implemented quickly; can be paid for on a monthly per-user basis without the costs of maintaining in house servers and software; is supported in New Zealand; and which delivers a lower cost of ownership while achieving high accuracy and reliability in filtering out spam, viruses and other threats. 

SMX’s evolving capability is now adding new and compelling points of difference. Today, highly accurate email filtering and 100 percent server availability and resiliency is a given for SMX customers. Now, it is new SMX capabilities such as data loss prevention, content control, and email archiving that give SMX customers powerful new tools to secure their email environment.

For Government and large enterprise customers, SMX empowers an IT or IS manager to have full oversight of inbound and outbound email; use sophisticated algorithms to protect sensitive information from leaking out of the organisation via email; and provides tools to manage inappropriate inbound material. The IT or IS Manager can do all these things through a single dashboard. Local service and support, and rapid access to highly technical email security advice continue to be key differentiating factors in SMX’s favour. Email archiving is also highly valued by public sector customers. 

Privacy and security an emerging concern

Emerging concerns about Cloud email privacy and security also favour SMX. Competing Cloud email security service providers require customer emails to be filtered offshore. Some maintain a local server, but in the event of failover the service defaults to servers offshore. Unlike other providers, SMX filter all New Zealand customer emails in New Zealand, under New Zealand jurisdiction and control.

SMX is a locally developed Cloud email security service, owned and operated by New Zealanders, in New Zealand, with on-the-ground implementation and support. SMX can be easily integrated as part of a wider service offering by SMX’s IT services company partners, or can be implemented directly by SMX.

SMX at the Department of Conservation

The SMX implementation for Department of Conservation, as part of service provider Fujitsu’s managed services portfolio, illustrates SMX’s strengths in the New Zealand public sector market. DoC required email to be safely and securely managed within New Zealand borders. They needed local service and support, and world-class accuracy in effectively filtering out virus threats and spam. DoC had previously used an alternative cloud based provider. When the incumbent provider moved its service and support offshore, DoC sought a New Zealand based alternative.

“When we compared SMX with our current solution and others in the market SMX stood out as the most mature provider, with significantly more resources than any other provider. They also demonstrated solid business continuity processes and are local,” says DoC’s Technology & Outsourced Services Manager Ken Walker.

“Also, the SMX technology stack uses multiple filtering products – this multivendor model means we aren’t reliant on only one security vendor, which is a plus,” Walker says. The SMX platform integrates industry-leading email security engines. This gives SMX customers the benefits of one of the largest real-time intelligence networks of any email security provider globally. Email protection evolves in real time to filter spam and viruses to better than 99.9 percent accuracy with extremely low false positives.

Another important factor for DoC is the high levels of security and redundancy in the SMX solution. Competing services route email offshore. In contrast, SMX has multiple data centres distributed throughout New Zealand. The underlying network infrastructure provides built-in redundancy via multiple network routes. Should an issue arise with any site, data is automatically routed around it, giving 100 percent service availability, which is 100 percent local.

Local support was another important differentiator for DoC. SMX provides first, second and, most importantly, third level support all within New Zealand. This local support team ensures all levels of SMX support are aligned with New Zealand business hours. Other providers must implement additional support agreements to ensure they have a specialist on hand – this extra cost is removed by implementing SMX.

Data sovereignty was a critical issue. DoC’s IT services partner, Fujitsu, advised DoC to consider the legal compliance, privacy and data sovereignty implications of off-shoring business data when making its decision. Data stored offshore may be subject to that country’s laws and jurisdiction - yet the New Zealand organisation is still responsible for data integrity and is liable if a security breach occurs.

SMX operates in country, so email is filtered and managed in New Zealand under local laws and jurisdiction. This means there is no impact on internal policy based on The Public Finance Act, the Privacy Act and the Public Records Act. As well, SMX’s cloud-based platform architecture is designed to ensure complete data integrity for clients.

SMX at Waikato District Health Board

For the Waikato District Health Board, a robust and reliable email system is mission critical to connecting a complex web of services. 6000 staff serve a population base of 370,000 from multiple locations spread throughout the Waikato region. Its annual budget is more than $1 billion.

In addition to a base hospital in Hamilton, the DHB has satellite hospitals, clinics and facilities across the region including Thames, Tokoroa, Morrinsville, Taumaranui and Te Kuiti. These are all administered from Hamilton.

Waikato DHB operations manager for information services, Debbie Manktelow, heads a team of 136 staff serving around 4500 desktops located throughout the organisation. Her priorities in switching to the SMX cloud service were heavily influenced by the cost in staff time to manage the delivery of clean secure email; as well being aligned to wider moves to maximize the efficiency of support services, including IT.

Waikato DHB, she says, is particularly aligned to efficiency improvements across the Midland region by collaboration with the Lakes, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Tairawhiti district health boards. The selection of SMX was made following competitive tender that included the incumbent supplier and two cloud-based, outsourced email security providers.

“We made our decision on a weighted range of factors,” Manktelow says. “We first of all looked at the quality of the product and the quality of support. SMX is well proven with good customer references from large Government sector organizations. SMX also has very good local support compared to competitors. We need reliable email 24x7 so quality local support is absolutely critical to us. 

“We also looked at what other Health sector organizations are using, particularly in the Midlands area, and what the Ministry of Health is doing in the email security area – particularly with SEEMail - and we wanted to be well aligned with the organisations that we work with on a day-to-day basis. So SMX scored highly in those areas. 

“Finally, we appreciated the more sophisticated management features of SMX. Looking ahead we want the ability to safeguard patient information from improper use. SMX’s SmartRules DLP gives excellent flexibility in creating rules to manage what we allow through our mail gateway, as well as the information flowing out. This ability to easily create reports, write rules, and generally tune the email environment to fit the changing needs of the organization is very important to us going forward.

“We implemented SMX in mid-February 2014. The changeover went very smoothly and we are very happy with both the product and the service. It’s working extremely well. SMX is a good company with a good product backed by good service,” Debbie Manktelow said.

SMX at Bay of Plenty District Health Board

Grant Ardern, ICT Systems Manager at Bay of Plenty DHB, has a similar story. Spam had been a significant issue for some time. Previous anti-spam and virus solutions were ineffective and the most recent solution - an outsourced mail scrubbing service - deleted bona fide messages but allowed spam to slip through. “We knew we didn’t want to maintain our own internal mail scrubbing software, so we decided to trial the SMX service. We were delighted with the trial and quickly signed up for the service,” Grant Adern says.

“Apart from delivering very high accuracy in identifying and scrubbing spam and viruses, SMX has great user features such as the content management tools for creating whitelists and blacklists. The service is fast and easy to implement and the service has been great. I have no hesitation in recommending SMX as an outstanding mail scrubbing service and being an excellent company to deal with,” says Grant Ardern.

SMX at Tauranga District Council

Bob Harris, Network Administrator at Tauranga District Council says speed to implement and ease of management are key benefits. “It took literally five minutes to change our DNS settings and we were up and running. SMX ran in parallel with our existing spam filtering system, which we only removed once we were entirely satisfied that SMX could do the job. We no longer have any need to manually update spam censorship rules and SMX’s helpdesk handles all queries regarding false positives/negatives, which saves me time.”