Enterprise Vault, as we all know, is a highly customizable beast. At times the amount of customization can seem daunting, but in this article I'll share with you 7 tweaks you can make to Enterprise Vault today. These tweaks cover a variety of changes which are cost-free yet can make a huge difference in the usage of Enterprise Vault or the administrative effort involved in working with the product.
Stop using the site schedule, and define task based ones instead
I personally think that the site schedule is the work of the devil! Throw it away, and do not use it for any of your tasks! It ends up being one extra step when it comes to mapping out the schedule of your server, or when reviewing task processing sequences. It is far better to individually customize your tasks and even better, make a 24x7 server schedule so that you can see at a glance what is happening on your environment at any time of the day, night, week, or weekend. Once you stop using the site schedule it means that if you want to know when your mailbox archiving task is going to run, you have just one place to go - the task itself.
Setup provisioning for 2 times per day
The default for the provisioning task is just to run once per day at midnight. This seems a little silly to me, and I would strongly recommend that you increase this to twice a day. I also like to change the schedule a little. I change it to 11am and 11pm. Midnight and midday just have oddness written throughout them, to me. It also makes it hard sometimes when you read reports and try to figure out whether they mean the middle of the night, or the middle of the day, when they say 12pm - with 11am and 11pm those problems are gone. Setting it to run twice per day also means that changes to the user population don't have to wait '24 hours' as is often quoted, and it saves you having to run the provisioning task manually in many cases.
Give users Virtual Vault
I've written about end-users experience with Enterprise Vault before, and I strongly believe that using Virtual Vault will definitely aid the acceptance and usage of Enterprise Vault by end-users. Give them 'full content' if at all possible, but remember to take this in account when sizing your environment. End users will like Virtual Vault because they can use it just like an infinite PST file, and it gives them a fast way in to ALL their archived items - both are great selling points to users.
There are many tools that can assist you like PST FlightDeck Enterprise or it's new, baby sister PST FlightDeck, or you can use the built-in methods within Enterprise Vault. It's worth spending some time evaluating the best way to do it in your organization, but remember to keep it simple. Migrations that start off with complicated requirements often end up being hugely more complicated than anyone ever imagines, leading in the end to users trying to 'break' the migration, and continuing to use PST files.
Show more love to OSX and OWA users
Many organisations have opted for a BYOD strategy (Bring Your Own Device) when it comes to computer hardware, and other organisations just have a good old jumble of hardware needs. In either situation the organisation ends up with users who have Mac's, or road warriors that have access only to OWA. You may even have users who have 'all of the above'. Show all these users some love and consider carefully how they will access the systems and deploy additional components, if necessary. There are some 3rd party utilities here like ARCviewer from CommonDesk that can give users a good Archive Explorer like experience on many, many different types of device.
Remember not everyone will be on Windows, and not every one will be able to use VPN. Also remember that some users will have many different use models for Enterprise Vault, they might be office based part of the time and using Outlook Web App for part of the time too.
Setup some ready partitions and define a rollover strategy
Backing up a large Enterprise Vault environment gradually gets more and more cumbersome. Often times administrators will reach for more and more expensive technology, but there is one simple thing that you can do to help with this type of situation without it costing a huge amount of money, if any money at all!
Invest some time in thinking of and instigating a partition rollover strategy.
It doesn't matter if you rollover monthly, quarterly, or manually - the main thing is that you consider what you can backup in a reasonable space of time, and manage your partition rollovers based around that. Of course the main thing to do here as well is to setup a collection of ready partitions, and if at all possible, set up automated rollover - it'll be one less admin chore for you or your team to do periodically.
Move your storage 'off machine' for better disaster recovery options
It is all too easy to setup Enterprise Vault with all it's storage held locally. Vault Store partition data, index data, EV Cache location can all live on local hard drives, but this type of configuration leads to problems in the event of a disaster. It is far better to have some of this critical data 'off machine'. The main things to consider are your Vault Store partition data, and index data. There is of course concerns relating to performance, and these should not be taken lightly. Enterprise Vault tries to help with some of this with the Connectivity Test when you setup a new Vault Store partition. Whilst many people believe that test to be too simplistic, it does give an indication that if your shiney, new, NAS is having a roundtrip time of 50ms, things aren't looking good for the future.
Symantec also have a whitepaper which talks about indexing best practices which is also well worth a read.
Overall then it is hopefully easy to see from this list that it's not too hard to make a few small tweaks to your environment which will greatly improve the user experience, as well as the administrative experience when using Enterprise Vault. If you are a consultant who implements Enterprise Vault regularly, are there tweaks that you 'always' performance? If you're a customer are there things that you 'wish' were easier? Let me know in the comments below....