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Implement an Archiving Solution That's Right for You

August 12, 2008

Summary

With the recognition that email is as mission-critical as any other IT system, it's no surprise that organizations around the world are paying closer attention to archiving solutions that address resource management, retention management, and e-discovery management.

Introduction

How serious can lost email be? Just ask the White House.
Recently, the Bush Administration took some heat for failing to keep adequate archives of its email. According to the Washington Post, the administration set aside the existing archiving system as part of a move from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange, and its current system reportedly relies on a combination of backup tapes and hand sorting. In May, court documents revealed that the White House was unable to find emails sent during a period in 2003 that encompassed the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Technical experts quoted by the Post said the administration relied on an inadequate archiving system for storing the millions of emails sent through White House servers, despite court orders and statutes requiring the preservation of such records. And two groups, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have accused the White House in lawsuits of violating the Federal Records Act because of what they say is its failure to preserve millions of emails, a charge the White House rejects.
With the recognition that email is as mission-critical as any other IT system, it's no surprise that organizations around the world are paying closer attention to archiving solutions that address resource management, retention management, and e-discovery management. This article looks at how IT organizations should go about evaluating and implementing these solutions.

Getting started

According to a study by Osterman Research Inc., 45% of email users in the United States will use an archiving solution by the end of this year, and that percentage is expected to increase to 63% by the end of 2009. For its part, Gartner Inc. has reported that the email archiving software market grew 33% in 2007 to reach $376 million and is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of nearly 36% until it reaches $1.72 billion by 2012.
The reasons for such steady growth aren't hard to find. Organizations today are finding themselves under increasing pressure, both legal and regulatory, to properly retain or delete documents. For example, recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure concerning the discovery of electronically stored information are exposing organizations to new risks and costs during litigation and subsequent discovery.
For companies considering dedicated email archiving, there are two main alternatives to consider at the outset: in-house or hosted. The in-house alternative uses internal resources and IT infrastructure to process and store archived email messages. Most providers favor this category. Hosted solutions provide another option for companies with limited IT budgets and personnel, as well as companies wanting to avoid investing a lot of up-front money in a system.
The next challenge involves determining the specific requirements for the email-archiving solution. What systems will it support? What is the volume of messages that will pass through it each day? What information should be retained? The answers to these questions will help set the criteria that will be used to select a product. Other important questions to ask include:
  • Have you engaged key stakeholders, incorporating input from a variety of sources both inside and outside the IT department?
  • Do you have mixed systems (Windows, Unix, Linux)?
  • Is your corporate email system centrally located or geographically dispersed?
  • Can the solution archive messages from multiple email systems?
  • Can the solution capture messages at the gateway?
  • Does expansion of the system require taking the system down?
  • Can the solution search across individual mailboxes throughout a network?
  • How long would an enterprise-wide search take?
  • How are messages secured?
  • Can the solution work with encryption?
  • Can the solution allow off-line access to the archive?
  • Can the solution present to users only those messages they have permission for?
Once an archiving solution has been selected, start with a pilot installation, focusing on a small subset of the environment. Assuming the product-selection process was thorough, this should go smoothly. Consider dividing the environment into logical segments for a phased deployment. (It probably won't be practical to turn on the archiving system for the entire enterprise.) A phased deployment also reduces the workload for the implementation team, which can't be expected to support everything at once.

Storing, managing, and discovering critical business information

Symantec Enterprise Vault is an archiving platform that stores, manages, and enables the discovery of corporate data from email systems, file server environments, instant messaging platforms, and collaboration and content management systems. Recently positioned by Gartner in the leaders quadrant in the 2008 Magic Quadrant for Email Active Archiving, Enterprise Vault delivers six key business benefits:
  • Eliminates .PST headaches. PST files (also known as personal folders or Outlook data files within Outlook) were not designed to handle the rigorous demands of today's large-scale corporate email requirements. However, many companies commonly move email from Exchange to PST files for retention. Ultimately, these files create more problems than they solve. They are one of the main reasons why many organizations eventually seek an enterprise archiving solution. Enterprise Vault software helps organizations solve these issues by migrating PST files into a central archiving repository.
  • Archives for legal and compliance. Enterprise Vault can be configured to retain and expire email and other electronically stored information according to policy, ensuring that it is kept for the appropriate period of time required to meet regulatory or legal requirements.
  • Faster backup and improved disaster recovery. By reducing the online message store by 50% to 75%, Enterprise Vault can shrink backup and recovery times and can help save money on storage and storage management. More important, this archived data can be leveraged for greater value through search and retrieval tools. End users benefit from the ability to initiate their own restores quickly, and IT groups spend less time on administrative restore requests.
  • Automatic mailbox management. With Enterprise Vault's automatic mailbox management, organizations can eliminate quotas and message size restrictions and give users a mailbox of virtually unlimited size. Enterprise Vault also reduces the time spent dealing with mailbox housekeeping. Admin-defined policies automatically archive individual mailbox email and attachments out of Microsoft Exchange and into online Enterprise Vault stores.
  • Storage optimization. Enterprise Vault blocks unwanted content and moves files to alternative storage devices without affecting the end user, allowing organizations to free up space on primary storage resources. User-driven recovery of specific content helps reduce administration overhead.
  • Intelligent archiving. Because different types of content have different values (e.g., business, personal, junk, and so on), companies are increasingly interested in controlling archive storage and operational costs. Intelligent archiving is a methodology to shape the Enterprise Vault archive and store only business-valued content with context. This is accomplished through classification options using automated classification, user-driven classification, or third-party (for example, records management) approaches.
Ultimately, Enterprise Vault helps alleviate the pressure on an organization to properly protect and manage its business-critical data.

Conclusion

Recent studies by the Enterprise Strategy Group suggest that email and other messaging applications store as much as 75% of a company's intellectual property. That's not surprising, given that organizations today count on their email systems to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But with little extra time to maintain backup windows, IT administrators are challenged to meet stringent business requirements. And in spite of exponential data growth and increasing user demands for data recoverability, IT budgets remain flat.

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