Ten Things Resellers Should Know about Email ArchivingSource: Business Solutions Magazine
Written by: Dave Hunt, founder and CEO of C2C SystemsAsk any solution provider about the value their customers place on email, and it will be abundantly clear that email is not just a communication tool but also a cache of knowledge about their business. The typical reasons to implement email archiving are capacity management to reduce the storage demands of the email system on IT resources; compliance with laws like Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and SEC that dictate what data must be kept and for how long; legal discoverability to comply with FRCP rules, Freedom of Information Act, or similar laws; and retention management to define when email can or must be permanently deleted from the system.
No company that is a heavy user of email can possibly keep up with the management of its own mailboxes, at least not without wasting valuable working hours. It is doubtful that even a medium user can maintain their load. The volumes are too great and the nature of certain email is too critical. Below are ten points to consider when selling and creating an email archiving strategy for your customers. (Although many of these relate to Exchange servers, the principles can apply to most environments.)
1. Address current needs, but project for future growth
When calculating capacity requirements, consider existing Exchange database storage as well as PST data that may be saved on employee desktops. Research shows email system growth to be around 40% annually as both the quantity and the size of emails increases. With an email archiving system, storage demand should decrease, not increase, over time, provided the product is able to use primary and secondary storage. (You don't want to be forced to un-archive everything and then move to a new platform down the line.)
2. Remove unnecessary data before archiving
This can be likened to cleaning out your closets or your garage before you pack up and move to a new house. It saves time, money, effort, and space to edit and purge first. Unnecessary data should be removed instead of placing it into the archives.
3. Consider supporting needs
Email archiving may create additional requirements depending on the customer environment. Desktop updates need to be packaged and deployed, additional hardware may need to be installed and maintained, storage must be provisioned, a laptop support strategy should be developed, and for Exchange servers, a PST process strategy should be defined.
4. Set up access controls and policies
Keep the number of administrative operators to a minimum to avoid excessive complexity and increase security. Since email archiving provides additional search, discovery and retention capabilities, the customer may need to review and update their e-policy and communicate it to the appropriate personnel and departments. The customer’s legal department can offer guidance for data retention and access, which may be governed by regulatory requirements.
5. Manage the pilot phase
Roll out the solution departmentally to a cross-section of users. IT and technical staff may be included in the rollout, but they tend to resolve issues directly rather than report them. Allow for fine-tuning based on the experiences of the users.
6. Manage expectations
Recovery of archived emails is likely to take a little more time than emails located on the primary server. If it has taken your customer 5 to 10 years to amass the email, it isn’t going to be archived overnight. It is wise to set the expectation that ‘some delay’ could be experienced in the initial phase of the project and focus on the positive impact on the employee, such as remote access to archived emails and the system’s ability to handle ever-larger files including moving images and voice messages. Very little end user training should be required.
7. Assess the impact on servers, especially Exchange servers
The Exchange server system performance and loading profile should improve with the introduction of an archiving solution. Archiving is generally noncritical, so any heavy processing can be done overnight or when the server is most idle.
8. Assess the impact on storage
If archive repositories are stored in traditional drive arrays, storage performance is typically not an issue, assuming that hosting hardware is not overloaded. When archives are stored on subsystems such as DVD jukeboxes, make sure data throughput reflects a sustainable, acceptable performance.
9. Consider recovery SLAs
Over time, an Exchange server’s storage requirements will change. For best recovery, a strategy will need to be formulated that considers the impact of performing a recovery operation and any subsequent adjustments to the server’s performance profile.
10. Back up the archive
Disk-based repositories for archived data need to be included in the backup routine as soon as the solution is on-line. Archive repositories that are compliant with common data replication solutions make it simple to configure a secondary disaster recovery location.
Dave Hunt, founder and CEO of C2C Systems, has more than 20 years of email management expertise. Hunt established C2C in 1992 with a vision to help IT managers and businesses solve message system problems, from evangelizing the concept of practicing email management in the first place to meeting performance and security goals. He helped lead the European Electronic Messaging Association during the ’80s and ’90s and his work consulting and helping IT managers solve their email issues has taken him throughout the world, including Europe, the U.S., South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.