Misc

Bringing technology to bear on email archiving in Exchange Server

Email archiving generally benefits from technologies that reduce data volumes, make it easier to find data and track access. While there is no single list of "must-have" technologies for archiving, here are some notable technologies worth considering.

Data deduplication -- Data deduplication, or dedup, tools reduce the storage requirements for archival data by removing redundant files, bytes or bits from archived files. You can deploy some dedup tools as software; storage platforms can also include dedup features. "One solution is to just take attachments out," said Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, a solution provider headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Removing attachments from email messages can typically reduce mail stores by 50%, he added.

Some organizations simply forego deduplication and set more aggressive migration schedules for email. For example, rather than remove attachments, simply wait a shorter period of time before migrating the message and attachment to archives. This doesn't conserve archival storage, but it can greatly reduce active storage demands on Exchange servers.

Indexing and search -- Archiving isn't useful unless you can easily locate messages in the future, so it's important to have a strong index engine that can apply relevant metadata to each archived message. Metadata can include the message creation date, sender, recipient, subject, etc. Similarly, include a strong search engine that can accept a broad range of queries against the metadata as well as search within the context of each message itself. Results should be returned in a format that IT or other corporate personnel can readily sort through and organize for further action.

E-discovery -- Index and search features are often included under the e-discovery umbrella, but e-discovery tools usually go a step further and apply archive management capabilities to lockdown messages. This prevents tampering or erasure of messages until the case is resolved, often called litigation hold.

"The technology isn't foolproof and it's very time consuming," said Allen Zuk, president and CEO of Sierra Management Consulting LLC, an independent technology consulting firm based in Parsippany, N.J. "The tools are not super intuitive -- there's a fair amount of work that's involved with e-discovery," he added.

Logging and auditing -- Organizations must also ensure that users only see the data that they are authorized to access. Therefore, logging and auditing tools should be included in the archive technology repertoire. "A lot of the regulations mandate that archives be kept in a place where you know who is accessing them and when," said Brien Posey, a Rock Hill, S.C.-based independent technology consultant. The tools don't need to be terribly sophisticated, but they should ensure that appropriate access restrictions are applied.

- By Stephen Bigelow, Senior Technology Writer

This was first published in March 2010

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