Ask virtually any executive which IT application he or she simply cannot do without and the answer will likely be e-mail. Organizations have come to rely on e-mail as a primary tool for communication, information sharing, completing business transactions, and more.
Indeed, e-mail messages are no longer just conversations; they are legitimate business records that may one day be required for regulatory, litigation, or informational purposes.
Organizations need to be able to recover e-mail simply, reliably, and efficiently while protecting and managing growing volumes of data across storage tiers. At the same time, they must reduce the cost and complexity of data and information management – and be positioned to respond to increasingly stringent regulatory compliance demands and potential legal discovery requests.
To that end, a growing number of organizations are leveraging backup and recovery systems together with message archiving software tools to reduce the size of data stores, save time and money on storage and storage management, better utilize IT resources and staff, and meet legal, industry, and government requirements.
Short- and Long-Term Protection
Data protection technology gives corporate enterprises a wide range of options and methods for increasing backup performance while reducing administrative costs. For example, enterprise backup systems often provide centralized management and control and a Web-based portal to enable administrators to manage, monitor, and report backup activities. Synthetic backups consume less network bandwidth and decrease the impact on applications by backing up files only once, while snapshot technologies enable low impact, high-performance backups and restores.
What’s more, a number of backup systems automate the disaster recovery process by helping to simplify tape rotation and the creation and management of tape duplications for offsite vaulting. Flexible media management capabilities allow users to share an automated tape library between heterogeneous systems, allowing organizations to more effectively leverage their expensive tape and drive resources. And a growing variety of solutions support a broad range of tape library, tape drive, and storage area network (SAN) interconnect technologies from leading vendors.
However, backups are designed for the short-term; they enable organizations to recover data damaged due to human error, natural disasters, and the like. However, they are not adequate tools for the search and retrieval of specific records. That’s why organizations are increasingly implementing a software-based email archiving system designed to take data that is no longer needed every day and move it to another, less expensive storage location where it is archived for the long term, while still making them readily available to users enterprise wide. Consequently, reducing primary storage through e-mail archiving results in improved backup and restore performance.
Discovery and Compliance
With countless desktops and hundreds of e-mail and application servers to support, today’s organizations face new challenges associated with the parallel rise in electronic discovery and compliance requirements. Backup systems alone fall short of meeting these challenges as e-mails are typically backed up – en masse and unindexed – to tape each day or week and then stored off-site until they are needed to recover an entire mailbox as the result of a disaster.
But for e-discovery purposes, specific e-mails must be located and retrieved quickly and prepared for presentation in court. Without an archiving system in place, this can take anywhere from days to months.
Moreover, an evolving and broadening range of industry and government regulations impose retention standards for archiving electronic communication. These requirements come from a number of regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
SEC-regulated registered public company auditors must maintain a secure, non-alterable, and searchable archive of all of their e-mail for anywhere from three to seven years. However, good practice has companies retaining all audit related materials and work papers for the seven year period. The NASD calls for the active sampling, supervisory review, and reporting to monitor correspondence, including e-mail, of its registered representatives. And the final HIPAA rule changed the protections afforded to the deceased, obligating covered entities to protect the protected health information of a deceased individual in the same manner as a living one. See 45 CFR 164.502(f).
And what are the consequences for non-compliance? They vary from regulation to regulation, but most promise fines, penalties, and imprisonment.
Message archiving systems can help organizations address these data management challenges by managing e-mail content through automated, policy-controlled archiving to online stores for active retention and seamless information retrieval. E-mail archiving manages the e-mail lifecycle from cradle to grave.
To ease e-discovery, message archiving immediately archives and indexes messages passing through the e-mail system and stores them in their original form without impacting users. In some cases, additional data sources can also be included in the discovery review process.
A critical capability of an effective archiving system is enabling organizations to solve the problem of PST file retention by migrating them into a central archiving repository. PST files are prone to corruption with limited recovery, which can result in permanent data loss. They also typically have a significant impact on backup and storage requirements as even the smallest change requires a full backup. E-mail archiving systems make it easy to find these files, identify their owner, import them, and report on their migration status.
Authorized reviews can quickly target and pinpoint specific mail when needed as part of litigation support, legal discovery, or investigation. Because the archiving system is not dependent upon the backup system for locating e-mail, the cost of electronic discovery is reduced as relevant e-mail is easily searched, qualified, and retrieved.
These processes also enable businesses to meet and demonstrate adherence to regulatory compliance policies. Organizations can perform cost-effective supervisory review of broker-dealer e-mail to ensure compliance. The framework of a message archiving system allows organizations to select and sample target e-mail, manage its review by appropriate parties, and record the process for audit purposes.
An Efficient and Effective Infrastructure
Today’s demanding regulatory and legal environment, together with the need to control costs and reduce complexity, are driving organizations to re-evaluate how they manage, preserve, and access business data. What’s more, as e-mail traffic increases and electronic messages are considered critical business records rather than simple conversations, organizations must put in place the tools and systems to facilitate compliance and streamline message management. Failure to do so may result in lost business and customer confidence as well as financial and legal liability.
By leveraging backup and recovery technologies along with message archiving tools, businesses can meet the pressing requirements for having tamper-proof records as well as compliance supervision capabilities, timely search and retrieval, and e-mail lifecycle management.
At the same time, these tools and technologies offer businesses a more coherent e-mail strategy and infrastructure that can result in cost and resource savings and increased operational efficiencies.
Nick Mehta leads a team responsible for product management, program management and partner programs for Enterprise Vault. As senior director of product management, Mehta is charged with product strategy, market and customer understanding, business planning, partnership strategy and go-to-market efforts for Enterprise Vault.
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2007 Issue"