Archiving an Exchange Personal Archive
If you are a consultant have you ever been to a customer that has started to use Exchange Personal Archives and then decided that they want to go to Enterprise Vault? Have you ever been to a customer that migrated to Exchange Personal Archives either from Enterprise Vault or some other archiving system, but then decided that they wanted to go to Enterprise Vault? If you have or even if you want another layer of resilience read on and see how this can be achieved relatively simply using familiar techniques and technologies.
When Exchange 2010 was first discussed and quite soon before it's release, I had a long hard think about Enterprise Vault versus Exchange 2010. In particular the Exchange 2010 Secondary Mailbox, or Personal Archive as it became known. Symantec even produced comparison documents which are available to compare the features of Exchange Personal Archives and Enterprise Vault, side-by-side. Some individuals did the same, one of those is on this link. I think someone may have also posted the PDF comparing the two products, here. Many organisations took a look at Personal Archives too, and some decided it was the way to go. They either didn't have an archiving solution and Exchange 2010 Personal Archives seemed 'good enough', or they had an archiving system (Enterprise Vault or other) and decided to decommission it and move everything to Exchange 2010.
Time passed by, and for many people the Exchange 2010 Personal Archive is still a good enough solution for the needs of their end-users. After all accessing it is the 'same' whether you are using Outlook, or Outlook Web App. It's all nicely unified and neat in one single interface.
Some people though discovered that there is quite a bit of 'missing' functionality, and it's not all green-grass on the 'other side'. They also missed the discovery features that Enterprise Vault brings, or, some of the legal teams in organisations that have never had Enterprise Vault started to ask for functionality and features in the discovery-area. Both of these are much weaker in Exchange than Enterprise Vault
These people, either driven by business demands, or driven by IT administration, have begun again to have another look at Enterprise Vault. These people are more knowledgeable now since they have experienced that Exchange can and has given them, and they demand something more than can be delivered with it. They want things like offline access to the archived data, and the ability to search across multiple archives.
The trouble is though, all the end-users have got all their archived data in the Personal Archive. Some have even had PST migrations performed to deliver that legacy data to the Personal Archive too. So how can all that data be extracted and moved over to Enterprise Vault? The Enterprise Vault Mailbox Archiving Task can only archive from the Exchange primary mailbox, not the Personal Archive. Is it just simply down to exporting it all to PST and then feeding it into Enterprise Vault? Is it a case of exporting the data back to the Exchange mailbox, and then having Enterprise Vault scoop up all the data over time?
Those approaches of course, are completely possible. They don't seem very elegant though. It's because those solutions aren't very elegant, nor are they very well controlled, and the fact they are almost entirely a one-way street, that we at QUADROtech developed another unique product. It's called the Archiving Agent for Exchange Personal Archives.
What AAEPA does is to copy or move data from an Exchange Personal Archive to a users existing, or new, archive within Enterprise Vault. Further more it can do this based on policies which are similar to the Enterprise Vault ones, and, it uses provisioning based on Active Directory group membership to associate end-users with the chosen policies.
So almost straight away it's possible to see two use cases for the product. Firstly you could enable the extension and have data copied from the Personal Archive to an Enterprise Vault archive, even though the user is not yet enabled again in Enterprise Vault. This data is then searchable, and it could be copied across using a zero day policy meaning that all of the users archive is in both places. Once in Enterprise Vault tools like Discovery Accelerator could search the journal archive, a copy of all email, and copies of the personal archives, if needed. Secondly you could enable users again in Enterprise Vault, and copy data from the Personal Archive to Enterprise Vault which was over a certain age - say 1 year - or even a 0 day policy again. Users would not have access to their mails in their personal archive offline, via Virtual Vault functionality in Enterprise Vault. Those of course are just two of the possibilities.
All of this is nicely wrapped up as one of the first Enterprise Vault Extensions which can be delivered inside the Enterprise Vault 10.0.4 framework, which was released mid-July 2013. With the extension framework it's possible for third parties like us to integrate some of the management and control of products directly in to the Vault Admin Console.
Having a third party extension like AAEPA is a great help in providing the means to copy or move the data from a users Exchange Personal Archive into Enterprise Vault. Sometimes people want to just have an extra copy, or they plan to move the data (ie delete it from the source) at a later date (or with the product itself). Sometimes people want to use the extra copy so that the powerful features of Discovery Accelerator can be used to search the data.
Have you moved to Exchange Personal Archives, and now have some second thoughts? Let me know in the comments below...