Mimecast has launched what its CEO described as one of the most significant upgrades in recent years to its email flagship Unified Email Management platform.

Mimecast is an email management specialist that offers email archiving, continuity, security and policy control, delivered as a software as a service (SaaS) option. The company has now upgraded its email archiving service, adding better security, regulatory compliance, 'ligitation hold' and e-discovery facilities, as well as linking it more closely to Microsoft Exchange.

Security has been improved thanks to 'meta data removal', that helps prevent information being leaked by stripping background data, such as tracked changes or previously inserted comments, out of attachments before it is allowed outside the firewall.

The litigation hold facility meanwhile prevents emails that relate to any current or anticipated legal action from being deleted, while e-discovery case management allows multiple searches to be aggregated together alongside forward collection to provide a complete, legally admissible log of each case.

According to CEO Peter Bauer, this release is somewhat unusual, as the last major upgrade back about in early 2007 with Stor4 (its storage grid), Since then, Mimecast has issued continuous upgrades and added new capabilities as well as the usual maintenance fixes.

"However, this release has such as significant architectural enhancements, a more formal launch was warranted, espcially because of the significance of some of the features and architectural changes," Bauer told Techworld.

"The key thing is two components which is the cloud-based filing systems Stor5, which has been extended substantially to handle lots of folder types and lot more meta data structures. There have also been significant improvements to do with search and speed," he added.

And Bauer says that one of the features should prove useful to companies involved in legal disputes, espicially as email is brought up in evidence in almost every corporate court case now.

"All customers should benefit from the litigation hold facility which suspends all messages pertaining to a certain matter, as sometimes the auto purging of your archive can put in a company danger of violating court orders if a particular email has been deleted," he said. "We frequently see the need for this in North America, but also expect to see it in Europe too. We have talked to companies that are absolutely drowning in data because of these litigation hold requests."

Bauer also said that Mimecast has enhanced its support for the Domino environment.

But what is driving demand for email SAAS? "I think one of key drivers is failure of traditional email archiving software to work well and be uncomplicated," he said. "When you buy these systems, you need a relational database, servers, backup volumes, all of which is a big and complex infrastructure that is going to have to store lots of data and do it reliably."

That pain is causing people to be very interested in a solution like ours," he said. "The key thing we are talking to customers about at the moment is the transition from client server approaches to cloud approaches," he added.

According to Bauer, elements of the upgrade such as the architectural changes and performance improvements, will be available now to existing customers, but in order to take advantage of the other changes, the company has introduced a new advanced bundle priced "slightly higher than our standard archiving capability."

Follow Tom Jowitt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TJowitt