Saturday, February 27, 2021

Email Archiving Emerges As Critical Function


On any given day, a resident of the City of Orlando can call the municipal
offices and ask to see all the emails that, let’s say, the chief of police
sent out and received in January 2002. They also might receive a request
the same week, or even the same day, from someone asking to see all the
emails sent in March relating to the fire department.

For John Matelski, deputy chief information officer for the city, it’s an
organizational and storage nightmare. But with the aid of email archiving,
he tries to think of it as just a challenge.

“It’s a storage challenge. That’s how I like to look at it,” says
Matelski, whose WAN supports more than 100 facilities and his department
supports 2,500 email accounts. “Since we live in Florida, we’re subject to
the Florida Sunshine Laws, which say that all government activities are open
to the public and all government business transactions must be provided…
How you do that is up to you. But I can’t print it all out and put it in a
folder. Automating that process is critical.”

The City of Orlando is part of a new trend picking up on a relatively old
idea — email archiving.

With a majority of business users relying on email more than the telephone
when it comes to business communications, an ever-increasing amount of
critical information is passing through a company’s email system. Sendmail,
Inc., a company that sells email archiving technology, reports that 60% of business critical information is stored within corporate
messaging systems. That’s up from 33% from just four years ago.
Sendmail also states that an average IT administrator spends five to six
hours a week recovering old messages since more than 80% of end users
cannot recover them on their own.

Email, in today’s corporate world, holds a company’s critical information.
In emails, financial expectations are discussed. Stocks might be suggested.
Sales are made. Customers make complaints. Companies make promises.

And it’s all recorded in email.

Now a growing number of businesses are realizing that they need to save
these emails. And they just can’t pack them away like receipts you toss in a
box at home. They need to be organized. They need to be easily accessible.
When an archived email is needed, you don’t want to have to call in half the
IT team just to find it.

“There’s a lot of buzz in the industry about email archiving right now and
it’s mainly being driven by regulations coming down saying you have to save
and be able to retrieve certain kinds of data,” says Doug Chandler, program
director for storage services at IDC, an industry analyst firm based in
Framingham, Mass. “It’s difficult because if you haven’t been saving this
stuff in an organized way, the ability to go in and pull up certain messages
from certain days five years ago is not an easy thing to do. You have to
have sophisticated software and trained people to manage this process.”

And there are a lot of new regulations — HIPAA, the FDA, SEC, Employee
Privacy Regulations. They all have rules for various industries governing
what information must be stored away and accessible. The health care
industry and financial services are the two generally considered to be the
hardest hit. But the idea behind the regulations — credibility and not a
little CYA (cover your assets) — is spreading from industry to industry.

Those regulations, coupled with companies’ fears of law suits, is pushing
the need to archive. David Ferris, president of San Francisco-based Ferris
Research, says there’s a $200 million email archiving market this year. And
he expects it to experience 50% to 100% growth over each of
the next four years.

For now, Matelski at the City of Orlando is using the archiving feature in
Lotus Notes 6.0 to make sure the city’s employees are meeting the
requirements of the state’s Sunshine Laws. The emails are archived locally
on the individual hard drives, and each employee is provided with a backup
mechanism and the training to use it.

Matelski says the employees are able to access and successfully search
through their own archives — without the help of the IT department, saving
Matelski and his workers an untold amount of time and distraction.

“That
would be a great burden,” he says. “If I have to assist any of those 2,500
people, there’s no way I could appropriately staff to accommodate that many
requests.”

The deputy chief information officer also says they are looking into buying
a stand-alone email archiving package to enable them to archive to a Storage
Area Network.

IDC’s Chandler says until they do, Matelski and his team won’t officially be
archiving.

“Technically speaking, archiving is treated as a permanent copy being saved
in a secondary location,” says Chandler. “I wouldn’t call it archiving if
you’re talking about putting it on someone’s PC hard disk. They’re using
that storage space everyday. You need to create a permanent copy somewhere
so you can save it for five or seven years or more.”

The issue is that it’s an expensive and complex endeavor.

For Tony Spruill, a senior program analyst at Kemet Electronics Corp., a
6,000-employee company based in South Carolina, it’s an expensive
proposition that his company is simply going to have to take. If Kemet
employees don’t start archiving, the company will have to keep upgrading its
email storage capacity. And that process has gotten old fast.

“We’re losing drive space because of the rate that the mail files are
growing,” says Spruill, who adds Kemet just upgraded its mail servers and
installed a data storage network to deal with their increasingly high mail
volume. “We’ll double our space and a year later we’re out of space
again.”

Right now, Kemet is employing the archiving feature in Lotus Notes 6.0, just
like the City of Orlando. Spruill says it’s helping but it’s only a ‘stop
gap’ for the problem. They’ve looked at IBM’s Common Store and like what
they’ve seen — all except the price tag. But he’s hopeful they can adopt it
soon.

“There’s a lot of document transaction and emails that each department
thinks they need to keep forever,” says Spruill. “Accounting, customer
sales — they all have emails they need to store away. And for them,
archiving is important.”

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