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E-mail archiving: options for SMBs

The market for e-mail archiving has experienced remarkable growth over the past several years, driven by compliance requirements and burgeoning volumes of messages. Both Gartner and IDC reported worldwide growth rates exceeding 40 percent in 2006. More modest growth rates over the next few years are still expected to push the market past $1 billion by 2011.

Many organizations in both the public and private sectors are not fully compliant, and remain unprepared for the rigors of e-discovery. Failing to address the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) implemented at the end of 2006 and with other compliance requirements such as privacy laws puts those organizations at risk.

A large number of software companies have developed e-mail archiving products, including Symantec, Zantaz, EMC and Open Text. Those products boast flexibility, such as integration with records management and the option to implement different policies for different categories of documents, but they do require substantial IT support.

E-mail archiving appliances and hosted services offer alternatives to on-site enterprise products. Many of them are oriented toward small and medium businesses (SMB), which may have had more trouble managing products that depend on in-depth support from IT staff. E-mail archiving is just as important for those companies as for the large ones. About 75 percent of user-generated content is now in the form of e-mail, according to Osterman Research, and e-discovery compliance rules apply to companies of all sizes.

Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), a medium-sized, high-profile law firm based in London, recognized the need for a system to retain all of its e-mail securely and began evaluating its options. The firm chose Cryoserver, an e-mail archiving appliance from Forensic & Compliance Systems. FSI had considered more traditional e-mail archiving software products that integrated fully with Microsoft Outlook, but selected Cryoserver for its strength in security.

"The most important aspect for us was that Cryoserver is a forensically compliant system," says Nick Boarland, IT director at FSI. Implementation was straightforward: The main action required is to connect the appliance to the network. Existing e-mails then need to be migrated to Cryoserver. Although time-consuming, that step is also straightforward.

In addition to ensuring compliance, Cryoserver provides a means for FSI’s employees to search quickly for e-mails that are no longer in their inboxes. "The IT department can run regular deletion routines on users’ mailboxes," says Boarland, "safe in the knowledge that all such e-mails are retrievable."

Previously, lawyers sometimes had to rely on printed copies of e-mail messages. The ability to migrate the messages out of users’ inboxes means that the volume of messages stored in Exchange can be kept under control.

Having a secure archiving system has reduced the legal risks FSI might face if required to produce e-mails. "We are 100 percent confident now that we can retrieve e-mails," adds Boarland, "and we know that they would be admissible in court if necessary."

"Cryoserver is sealed and tamper-proof," says Ralph Harvey, CEO of Forensic & Compliance Systems. "There is no flow through an administrator and no access via a password to modify the contents of the appliance."

Cryoserver de-duplicates e-mails so that multiple copies of the same message do not have to be stored, but otherwise, stores all e-mails. "One problem with having to make decisions about what to retain," says Harvey, "is that the same e-mail might contain several different kinds of content, and different policies would apply." Therefore, keeping all messages for a specified amount of time is the most advisable approach.

Smaller organizations are generally the ones that are opting for archiving appliances, according to Masha Khmartseva, senior analyst at the Radicati Group. "There are fewer customization options, but installation is easier," she says. "Appliances also have cost advantages in that little or no professional support is required."

Khmartseva adds that e-mail archiving is a dynamic area, with a large number of new players in the software side, not all of whom understand the complexity of archiving with respect to compliance.

Outsourced archiving

Another option that may be appealing for small and medium-sized businesses is outsourcing of e-mail archiving. LiveOffice uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The company has been offering e-mail services for a decade and archiving since 2001. The LiveOffice archiving solution captures inbound, outbound, internal e-mails and attached documents automatically, and then indexes and archives them. Its messaging services include e-mail hosting, message security, disaster recovery, compliance policy management and other functions.

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