Fueled by the on-going maturation of archiving solutions and a rapidly shifting vendor landscape, an increasing number of organizations are facing the prospect of an archive migration—a scenario that can appear daunting in light of its complexity and scope.
Archiving solutions, used to manage the vast amounts of unstructured data organizations collect, have a wide-ranging value proposition—from improving application performance and optimizing storage usage to dramatically reducing the time and resources required for running backup. Archiving solutions are also key to companies' efforts to meet legal and regulatory requirements due to their ability to enforce retention and expiration policies and index records for efficient search and discovery processes.
Given that the practice of archiving is so intrinsic to operations and because the archives themselves can be large and technically complex, archive migration is generally considered a defensive move and one not to be taken lightly. Archiving solutions are not architected with migration in mind and resulting errors can be costly. Therefore, organizations are reluctant to switch platforms even if their incumbent solution doesn't adequately address increasing demands and emerging business requirements.
However, many organizations are revisiting their reluctance to migration, prompted by the proliferation and evolving maturity of new archiving solutions along with a variety of internal and external pressures. For instance, many legacy archiving solutions are hamstrung by productivity and capacity constraints such as mailbox quotas and restrictions on user access to archived email. These limitations can lead to workarounds that increase storage costs, create lengthy backup windows, and require administrators to deal with unproductive, one-off exceptions. New technologies like virtualization, cloud computing initiatives, and the meteoric growth of rich media content are also prompting companies to consider consolidating on a single archiving solution that can handle all of their future requirements.
From an external perspective, vendor viability remains an on-going issue as consolidation in this space prompts companies to reevaluate their chosen partner's ability to stick around for the long run. In addition, in light of new content sources like Twitter and instant messaging, the growing use of eDiscovery in litigation, and increasing interest in email platform upgrades, companies are recognizing that the consequences of maintaining the status quo might be more onerous than undertaking a well-orchestrated migration.
Few organizations have experience with this type of migration and benchmarking the process against routine upgrades like a move from Exchange 2003 to 2007 can greatly underestimate the scope of the task. Based on the accumulated experience of Symantec and its migration partners, here are seven best practices for ensuring a smooth archive migration:
Evaluate target solutions. Carefully select a platform with an eye towards the maturity, adaptability, and support requirements necessary for the long term in addition to features specific to eDiscovery. Don't get too caught up in the latest "gee-whiz" capabilities and be wary of solutions that create large, complex indexes, which can increase storage costs and lead to subsequent corruption issues.
Estimate scope and set priorities. Evaluate and prioritize the migration by considering variables such as data types and volumes, legal and regulatory hold status, and storage requirements. The plan needs to meet the requirements of key stakeholders—for example, providing the legal team with eDiscovery search granularity or offering mobile access to the archiving environment for demanding, "power" email users.
Consider cloud options. Some organizations may opt for a cloud-based archiving solution, which can reduce the on-site IT footprint, cut the management burden, and scale more effectively to changing demands.
Migrate selectively. Make sure to migrate data based on current information governance policies around retention and expiry. This helps to reduce archive storage requirements in the target environment, while also mapping eDiscovery exposure to the proper legal and regulatory climate.
Plan a logical migration sequence. Most archive migrations advance one data type at a time so proper order is important to the overall strategy. Companies should prioritize migration based on what data delivers the most value to the business.
Prepare the target environment. If the target environment is on-premise or a hybrid of on-premise and a cloud-based archive, IT needs to map the anticipated size and usage of the archive to the proper mix of servers, disk space, and network infrastructure. Consider estimation tools to help predict requirements as well as solutions that leverage deduplication, compression, and single-instance storage techniques. If the target archive is cloud-based, minimal preparation is needed since all the necessary archiving hardware and software is included as part of the monthly subscription fee. Make sure that the cloud-archiving vendor provides unlimited storage, retention and support, as well as ongoing maintenance and updates as part of this fee.
Monitor the migration. Maintain close scrutiny of both the source and target environments to monitor migration progress. Make sure to test data integrity in the target environment to ensure things are working as planned and keep full records of data that doesn't migrate successfully in case that information is needed at a later date. Certified migration organizations should offer this as part of their service offering. Additionally if migrating to a cloud archive, a data import specialist from the cloud archiving vendor should be assigned to initiate, monitor and complete the ingestion of the legacy information.
Symantec, recognized as a leader on the Gartner Enterprise Information Archiving Magic Quadrant for nine consecutive years, understands that no two companies have the same requirements for storing, managing, and discovering their business-critical information. That's why Symantec's Enterprise Vault archiving solutions, in use by more than 25,000 customers worldwide, offer a flexible approach, managing a wide array of data—from email to files to social media—and supporting multiple deployment options, including on-premise, cloud-based, or as a managed service, depending on the needs of the organization.
With this shifting vendor landscape and emerging governance and compliance requirements, organizations should reevaluate legacy archiving solutions and ensure their archives are helping to move their businesses strategically forward, not stalling them. Vendor viability, customer support, and long-term integrated product roadmaps should be highly considered. Settling for the status quo and delaying needed change when it comes to storing, managing, and discovering information will just not work for most organizations.
With guidance from Symantec and its partners, companies like G&F Financial Group are finding there's no better time to orchestrate an archive migration. The company migrated 100% of its email archive from its legacy Autonomy solution to Symantec Enterprise Vault in just one month with no disruption to the business and achieving significant cost savings. Click here
to dig deeper into G&F Financial's migration story. To discuss your archive migration options, contact your Symantec sales representative or email: email@example.com