Email security company Mailsphere, recently announced its rebrand and relaunch as Xift. PrintIT Reseller caught up with Director Peter Groucutt, to find out more
Xift’s (pronounced zift) founders hail from business continuity specialist Databarracks, HP and MessageLabs (now owned by Symantec). Tom Roberts, Oliver Mather and Peter Groucutt ran Databarracks, a specialist disaster recovery service provider for the last 15 years. Lee Burgess has been in enterprise technology for over 20 years and is the chief technologist behind Xift. Lastly, Stephen Chandler and Ian Milbourn are obviously not strangers to the email security market, having founded, run and ultimately sold MessageLabs to Symantec for $700 million in 2008. Together, the group combine experience in enterprise tech, focused customer service and email security to deliver a modern solution, fit for today’s challenges and have big ambitions for product development and the market opportunity.
PrintIT Reseller (PITR): Why the rebrand?
Peter Groucutt (PG): Email has changed. Increasingly, mailboxes are in Office365 rather than on-premise Exchange servers. Those mailboxes still need spam and virus protection, but with that change comes the need to archive data from other sources.
We rebranded to align with our future roadmap. Mailsphere was designed around providing security and compliance for email. We wanted to give companies an alternative to traditional, expensive SEG (Secure Email Gateway) products. As more of our customers moved into Office 365 they started asking us for search, archive and protection for other parts of the Office 365 suite like Sharepoint, OneDrive and Teams.
We chose this name because of the parallels with sifting to find value. Xift separates the proverbial wheat from the chaff – the useful data from the useless or dangerous. We have an ambitious development roadmap planned expanding Xift beyond email archive to protect more data sources. We are adding new functionality, improving the UI and investing in our support team. As the product moves away from just email security, it was the right time to move our brand on too. Mailsphere is where we started, but Xift is where we are going.
PITR: What are the biggest challenges facing businesses when navigating the shift from on-premise to Office365?
PG: In our minds, without a doubt it is preparing the users for a different experience. The additional benefits of sharing and collaboration with Office 365 are massive but a lot of smaller companies make the change without taking their end-users on the journey with them. It’s as important as the technical migration but can be an afterthought. By including just a few simple training sessions early on, you make the transition smoother and users are more likely to make changes to their working practices.
PITR: In the same vein, from a resellers’ perspective, what are the opportunities within the email security market. And how are you supporting your reseller partners to capitalise on these?
PG: I think all of us in IT have seen two very clear trends emerging over the past five years or so. Firstly, cloud adoption enables companies to focus on their core business activities and worry a lot less about managing internal systems. The second is an exponential increase in cyber threats from a myriad of different sources. The threats aimed at SMEs are largely driven by a shift in organised crime to this new low-risk, high reward business model.
These two drivers mean that there is huge opportunity for resellers in the email security market. Today the most exploited attack vector for any cyber attack is still email and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Additionally, any sensible defence mechanism from an outage of your primary technology provider is to have resilience from a third-party. The combination of these factors means that companies like Xift are a must for any business now.
PITR: You said Xift is different – can you explain how?
PG: The channel needs a new solution. The email security market is mature and has become stagnant. There is a lot of legacy technology that isn’t delivering value for money and hasn’t changed to reflect the move businesses are making to Office 365.
Vendors have been increasing prices rather than delivering value for money. Every time a customer renews its contract, they’re introduced to new add-ons and greater cost. The result is bloatware and expensive products that don’t deliver value.
Archive prices, in particular should be falling in line with reductions in cloud storage costs, but they haven’t. And what most frustrates customers is that they are being held hostage by exorbitant archive extraction costs and feel locked-in.
Partners selling email security products have been suffering. They lose margin when contracts are re-signed so get trapped in a cycle of being forced to upsell new features in order to maintain revenue. Really, their customers just want to reduce email security costs.
Xift is different. It’s stripped back to just the features that businesses really need – security, continuity and archive. Xift has been designed around and built in the cloud from day one. We leverage all that the cloud has to offer in terms of processing, storage, resilience and scalability. That meant that we have been able to focus on the software rather than the infrastructure. We have no technical debt and this means that we have been able to offer more for less from day one.
We’re here to disrupt the market with a seriously affordable product at less than half the price of the competition. We’re offering consistent margin for the lifetime of the customer and a solution fit for the new world of email.
Our pricing is aggressive to help displace incumbent solutions, or to include as an add-on with every email mailbox sold. We offer, anti-spam, antivirus, unlimited archiving and business continuity at roughly a third of the price of our nearest competitor. But we are not stopping there, we are building new core functionality at no additional cost. We have one or two roadmap items that will need to be chargeable, but the majority of what we are developing will be at no further cost. That means our resellers can give their customers more for no increase in their monthly bill.
The second and probably most important difference is that we don’t have any import charges or export charges from our platform. Some of our competitors make it virtually impossible for customers to leave their platform, charging exorbitant migration fees to get data out should you want to leave. We have always believed and always will that your data belongs to you and we will not hold it to ransom should you want to leave us for any reason. Extracting your data from Xift is easy and free.
PITR: With regards to the UK channel, what have you been focusing on over the past year or so?
PG: Xift is 100% channel-focussed, delivering a consistent, predictable and high-margin security service. We have a very close relationship with Westcoast, the UK’s largest distributor for Microsoft Office 365 and we have been working closely with them and their partners to introduce Xift into the UK market.
PITR: What type of companies are you looking to work more with in the near future?
PG: We have always wanted to work with companies like us. Forward-thinking companies who understand the need for resilience and security and want to help their customers leverage key data assets in a more beneficial way.
Archives have been traditionally benign storage pools, kept because there is a regulatory, compliance or legal necessity to do so. Xift wants to change that. We believe that data archives contain the corporate memory, the entire learning of a business, its clients, employees, suppliers, communications plans etc. We’re building a platform that allows businesses of all sizes to draw insight and make use of their corporate memory to make better decisions whilst protecting them from the growing cyber threat.
PITR: What do you have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?
PG: Well we have a very exciting year ahead planned. Imminently, we’re releasing our new legal and compliance functionality, integration with more of the O365 suite, new dashboards and a new UI. Beyond that I can’t say too much yet other than that we are looking at leveraging new and emerging technologies to give users much more control, insight and security around all of their cloud assets in Office 365.
It’s fair to say we have only just started our ambitious plans to turn the traditional email security market on its head within three years!