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How PST Migration can drive your BYOD policy

Created: 11 Sep 2013 • Updated: 11 Sep 2013
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Bring Your Own Device is a phenomenon which is attracting a lot of attention in the IT-worker space.  Bringing 'any' device to work to do your day-to-day job seems like a gift to many employees especially in environments with office workers who may be relatively cash-rich.  It does leave some headaches for IT administrators though, for example what can be done with end-users PST files that they have accumulated over the years?  In this article I'll explain how you can remove PST files from your environment (once and for all!) and how that can assist with your BYOD policies

The problem

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There are many, many problems with PST files, no matter which way you look at them:
- Multiple copies are likely to exist on both local machine locations, and network drives - backing these up is costly for users and administrators
- End-users are likely to have many, many PST files - finding useful, relevant information is costly and time-consuming
- Files can be password protected, and users forget the password or are unwilling to disclose it
- Files are relatively easy to corrupt
- Information is not available when using non-PC (or MAC) based devices, for example all those users who want to bring in their iPad to do their day to day work will struggle with accessing legacy data stored in their PST files

 I've written about BYOD before, and how Enterprise Vault can help with the overall strategy of developing BYOD for your organisation.  Take a look at that article, via the link below:

 http://www.symantec.com/connect/articles/how-does-byod-affect-your-enterprise-vault-strategy

 So, how can these two seemingly different goals of PST migration and BYOD coincide with each other and become reality?  

 The cure?

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 One way is to bring PSTs and BYOD goals together.  Each powers and fuels the other, feeding each other too.  

If only you could get rid all of the old PST files that users have and provide them with a slick interface, then it would mean that when they're using their own device, PC, tablet, Mac or whatever, they'll have the benefit of having a single location to search and be able to quickly get to the information that they need to perform their tasks.  

If only an IT administrator good take over the PST file data, in a different format, and have a single copy of each item in a central location so that it can be integrated carefully into a solid backup strategy.

Well, the good news is that you can do this.

With the help of an Enterprise-class product like PST FlightDeck, PST files can be quickly ingested into Enterprise Vault and removed from network drives, and local end-user machines. Progress through a migration using PST FlightDeck is quick and users can see fantastic benefits such as being able to access a single copy of their data in a single location: their Enterprise Vault archive.

Enterprise Vault of course then provides many different ways of viewing this data, such as:

- Search, integrated into Outlook as well as browser based
- Archive Explorer
- Virtual Vault
- Shortcuts (if they were created during the migration)
- Viewing archived data from Outlook Web App

Many of these different facilities are available across-device, which folds in to the BYOD goal.  Now all of the data is available in one place, a central place, users can use 'any device' to access it.

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 The two different goals help sell each other to end-users, especially when you also consider that PST FlightDeck can cope with very old ANSI PST files by converting them to unicode.  It can instantly remove passwords from PST files.  It can de-duplicate items across multiple PSTs from a single user (for example if there is a month-old backup of a PST on a network share, and a local copy on an end-user workstation with more up to date, but largely the same data this will be consolidated before sending to Enterprise Vault).  It can also do a final backup of PST files, and perform any repairs on PST files if required.

Clearly the way

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 It is clear from talking with many partners and customers that the PST problem needs to be addressed - it is like a thorn in the side of many IT organisations who are doing great work in trying to secure corporate data and maintain flexibility in working, yet they have these easily obtainable non-encrypted PST files throughout end-user workstations, portable drives, and network shares.   It is also clear that for many organisations trying to push all-users-have-one-standard-laptop isn't working and a new approach such as BYOD which I described in the referenced article, or certainly some sort of hybrid approach, is needed to satisfy the way that the organisation wants end-users to work.

Getting PST file data into an archive is win-win for both projects, and using a migration tool, or even (depending on size and complexity) using native Enterprise Vault tools, will move the IT world forward, and hopefully instill some good-press for the IT team inside an organisation.

 Moving on

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Once all the data is inside the users archive, the experience that end-users get is not particularly amazing today. The experience differs across different devices, and even with the introduction of third party products like CommonDesk and their ARCviewer product, it is still not as a good an end-user experience as say Outlook with Virtual Vault.  This experience though is only going to get better in coming releases of Enterprise Vault.  Whilst Symantec Partners aren't allowed to go in to detail about the new features lets just say that there are new features on the roadmap that will definitely help the experience of mobile or device-orientated users, and they'll be coming in the very near future.

Do you have a BYOD policy?  How has your organisation handled the historic PST-file problem?  Let me know in the comments below...