Set up messaging records management (MRM) in Exchange Server 2007

After moving Exchange Server 2007 mailbox data from .PST files to another location, it's best to manage this data using messaging records management (MRM). This tip from Microsoft MVP Brien Posey explains how to plan, implement and test a successful MRM solution.

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After moving user data from .PST files to another location for retention in Exchange Server 2007, it's best to manage this data by implementing a messaging records management (MRM) solution. This tip highlights some considerations administrators must make before implementing MRM in an Exchange Server 2007 environment.

Messaging records management (MRM) is a message management technology that's built into Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise Edition. Organizations typically have several different types of messages collected in Exchange information stores. For example, almost every organization will have current messages that are less than 30 days old in these stores, as well as some older messages.

An Exchange administrator's goal when implementing an MRM solution is to leave current messages untouched and determine which older messages should be kept. This could mean that you must determine which messages must be retained due to legal/compliance regulations, and which messages hold no business or legal retention value.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a variety of Exchange 2007 managed folders, each with a different purpose. The managed folders will also have different limits. You can either allow users to move messages into the appropriate folders manually, or you can set up an automated filtering mechanism that helps move messages to appropriate folders.

MRM solutions will vary from organization to organization. What works well for one company may wreak havoc on another, and vice versa. Therefore, there aren't any Microsoft-generated documents that outline the process of creating the best MRM solution. Designing an MRM solution is as much an art form as it is a science.

More on Exchange 2007 message management:
Microsoft Outlook .PST file FAQs

How to set up Exchange 2007 message classifications

Email archiving and retention with Exchange 2007 managed folders

Because of this, planning and small-scale testing is critical. Even if it seems that you have developed a good plan to manage your organization's messages, you probably will run into unexpected issues while implementing and testing your messaging records management solution.

A pilot deployment is still important -- even if you plan the MRM process properly, anticipate what managed folders will be required and get the folder's retention limits and filtering mechanisms correct on the first try. Small-scale testing can help you measure the effect that your MRM solution will have on your Exchange servers and your network.

Normally, an MRM solution has a negligible effect on Exchange Server performance, as long as the server wasn't overloaded already. Likewise, an MRM solution barely affects network performance.

The problem is that when you first unleash your new MRM solution, it must filter through a backlog of thousands of messages. Working through all of these messages typically places a heavy burden on associated Exchange servers. Depending on your network's design, it could suffer a heavy performance burden during the initial sorting process. Users may also find that Microsoft Outlook takes a long time to synchronize with all of these changes.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Server (IIS) and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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This was first published in September 2008

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