I felt compelled to create this post on my blog due a recent experience I had with Mimosa Systems: An email-archiving solution that I had the misfortune of getting involved with for my school district.
Before I continue with this account, let me qualify myself, as to not risk the possibility of losing your attention, under the pretext of being “just another disgruntled customer”.
I am an IT professional for 12 years now, and have been specifically involved in system administration, engineering, architecture and design, for most of that period. I have implemented quite a few robust products and infrastructures: i.e: Exchange 2000, 2003, migration from Active Directory to 2000 to 2003, full implementation of VMWare vSphere 4.0, VMWare View 3.5 and 4.0, multiple SANs, Digital Imaging solutions (Viatron), Desktop Management solutions (LANDesk) to name a few. I have done most of those, either on my own, or with the assistance of an implementation company, or working directly with a manufacturer. All this to say that I have had enough experience to know the difference between a professional service, well designed product, efficient implementation, and the polar opposite of the former.
The reason I felt the need to write this review is because I (my school district) has been robbed close to a $100,000 from Mimosa Systems, with not so much as an apology, ok, not a sincere one at least.
The whole ordeal started back in November of 2007, when some random vendor (first mistake) approached us with the Mimosa Product, as we happened to be in the market to look at an email archiving/e-Discovery solution for our district. After a “great” marketing ploy, we were sold on the product, especially that we were looking for a solution that will help us keep our Exchange data stores within a manageable size. Mimosa’s promises to have message stubbing, and archiving of old message, as well as allowing users to upload their offline PSTs up to the archive, for online accessibility from any location, sounded like a great, and well needed offering in our situation.
We decided to go with Mimosa after all, and started the process of doing the paperwork. Something worthy of mention is the price of the product. When we first started our conversations with Mimosa, the price for Nearpoint was going to be close to $240,000 to cover all our users, with eDiscovery, and Message stubbing options. After a lot of negotiations, we somehow managed to get the product for $80,000!!! Yes, you read that right, from $240,000 to $80,000. Gives you an idea how much money they’re making off of this!
The process started with the professional services, asking us to send them information about our environment to get, in return, a sizing document for our servers and storage. We did this, and they sent us sizing document. All was fine and dandy, however, we weren’t able to continue with the project yet, as we wanted to do some cleanup on Exchange first, to avoid having to archive junk data that isn’t needed. So, we put the project on hold for a couple of months, then, came back to Mimosa when we were ready. Lo and behold, the engineer looked at the hardware that we had purchased to spec, and said that there is no way this hardware is going to work. This is now about 5 or 6 months into it, after we paid for the product with the first year of maintenance: still no implementation.
Since Mimosa refused to implement with our current spec, they decided to send us another sizing document, and ask us to upgrade our hardware, so here we went again, buying another set of hardware that would satisfy Mimosa. Of course, the process of getting that hardware took a couple of months, as it was a big order, which needed to go to bid, etc … meanwhile, the clock is ticking on our maintenance contract which we’re not using. We’re now getting close to 1 year, with no implementation.
To our surprise, we suddenly receive a quote for maintenance renewal for Nearpoint for some $30,000, from our vendor, which, by the way, hadn’t been in the picture through the whole implementation, and only comes back in when it’s time for payment.. very convenient. Of course, we raise a stink with Mimosa about the payment for maintenance for a product that we weren’t able to use, and after a lot of back and forth, we managed to get some 40% discount on our maintenance for that year. that’s still some $18000! In good faith, and in hopes to maintain our relationship, we paid the maintenance, and continued with our implementation.
A new engineer was assigned to us, who seemed disgruntled the whole way, always complaining that our hardware is still not adequate, even though it was ordered based on Mimosa’s sizing requirements. Throughout the implementation, the product would just never work. Usually, when I am implementing a product, I stay and watch the implementation engineer through all the steps, as I am the curious type, and want to know how things are done. I have to admit, that there were really no steps in this implementation, It was a trial and error at best, with multiple phone calls to the engineer’s backup to resolve certain issues. Pointing fingers back at the hardware was a constant issue, even though we finally found out towards the end, that the hardware was functioning fine, and the processes of the product were just not running, hence causing the hardware to look like it’s not performing at all! what a shocker! Of course, I didn’t really know that, as I was relying on the engineer to figure that part out, at least until I got some formal training on the product. Through the implementation, the SAN Storage space was taking up more than the sizing recommendation, even before we went live (which, we never did, by the way).
In addition to this frustration of technical nature, it was really hard to get the attention of the engineer between running processes, throughout the whole implementation, we felt like were on the backburner. Not to mention, the nonchalance that we were being exposed to on Mimosa’s part.
After some 2 weeks of attempts for implementation, and hours watching the engineer fumble through the implementation that never worked, I decided to take this to my director, and ask for us to pull the plug on the project. The fact that we had spent close to $100,000 shouldn’t be an excuse for us to be stuck with a horrible product, which, in essence is going to be just as important as exchange, and required about 3 times the management to keep it running.
After agreement, I sent a long detailed email to Mimosa explaining the issues that I have with them, and my decision to pull the plug on the project. This was received with an initial empathy, and a call from the director of their professional services department, who, after a lot of back and forth, decided to urge us to go to a 4 day training just to be able to use the product, and offered us a measly ~$2000 for training, even though, at this point, we were furious, and were asking for at least a partial refund of our maintenance. Promises were made about getting back to us with a solution to rectify our relationship, and we never got it.
A couple of months later, we receive another call from our vendor asking for a phone conference with Mimosa to talk about our situation. We agree on the condition that the only reason we would speak with them is for the purpose of a refund.
The phone conference happened, and to our dismay, we were faced with a customer relationship manager who had one purpose, and one purpose only: to “rectify our relationship”, and continue with our implementation, despite the fact that we specifically asked that this conversation cannot be about that. We finally asked that Mimosa would confer with their upper management and see if they would be able to refund us at least partially for a product that was so poorly sold and implemented. that was the least we had hoped for.
Unfortunately, there is a sad ending to this, with Mimosa getting back to us finally, and stating that there is not even a partial refund that can be issued back to us, and bottom line, we were $100,000 short. Mimosa has a $100,000 of ours and walked with it, worst of all, we don’t have a product!
You ask WHY I’m telling you this? Well, there are a couple of reasons:
1- When we were speaking with Mimosa, we asked that they rectify the relationship by refunding some of our maintenance cost at least. Since there was no chance we were going to continue implementation, we figured, if they offer something back, we could sincerely speak of them to any potential references, as a company who screwed up (which occasionally happens), and rectified their mistake. They have left me no choice. I am left with a bitter experience with them, with nothing at all to speak for. Sure, they will give you the excellent references of successful implementations they already have. That’s great! take my experience, and the successful reference, and make the decision for yourself.
2- which brings me to the second point. Though I made a mistake in choosing a product/vendor/company, I have learned from it. Some mistakes are better learned from others. So my reason for writing this, is to warn any potential users of Mimosa products to do their research before jumping into this.
3- I believe Mimosa is a company that has no business ethics whatsoever, and I resent that, and I think that it is unfair for other people to be conned into using them without knowing their way of business.
Funny thing is, in the same period we were going through the problems we had with Mimosa, I had 2 people contact me for references about Mimosa. One of which is a very big corporation. I was forced into giving a bad reference. Unfortunately for Mimosa, this is not the first, nor the last person that is going to come and ask me for references on products, one of which will undoubtedly be Mimosa.