Email Archiving: Choose Carefully…Very Carefully (Part 5)

By André Franklin

This is part 5 of a 5 part series on email archiving. In part 4, we discussed the first five of the following seven principles of choosing an email archiving solution:



  1. Thoroughly understand your email environment

  2. Set clear archiving goals that will still make sense in 5 years or more

  3. Examine scalability in all dimensions

  4. Don’t treat email archiving as a silo. Consider other applications that need (or will need) data archiving

  5. Favor solutions built on standard interfaces for investment protection

  6. Backup and/or replication is more important than any other single feature

  7. Seek references of companies that have similar needs

We’ll take a close look at principles 6 and 7 in this final installment of the series.


 


Backup and/or replication is more important than any other single feature


The ability to backup and protect the archive is critical. Now…this may sound like a contradiction. Isn’t an archive deemed “safe” by definition? Redundant drives? WORM-like features? Digital signatures and certified tamperproof? In a secure area?


It all sounds so secure…but as my dad used to say, “it ain’t necessarily so”.


Let’s say I have all of the photos of my daughter’s wedding backed up to a CD-ROM. Let’s also assume that I delete these photos from my computer to free up disk space.


One more assumption…


My three year-old grandson finds the CD-ROM on my desk. He thinks it is the most amazing shiny toy he has ever seen.


Need I say more?


Stuff happens.


Non-rewritable CD-ROM is WORM by definition. It’s long lasting. It’s tamperproof. But the one thing CD-ROM is NOT is indestructible. And so it is with an email archive: it may be the safest device on the planet on paper…but backup is not really backup until there are at least two instances of the data…and one instance must be physically removed from the other. A secure data center does not help if multiple failures in the archiving platform itself make data unrecoverable.


Choose an email archiving solution that offers a backup solution…and keep the backup media in a safe place away from the archiving platform.


Remote replication can ease backup requirements. Depending on the vendor…archive platform “A” can be a replication target for archive platform “B”…and vice versa. With a failover scheme and physical separation, many benefits can be realized including greater data protection, greater data availability, and increased disaster recovery. Backup windows for mail servers can be shortened…and backup frequency reduced. So…replication is NOT just about disaster recovery.


The bottom line on backup: You gotta have this! Period.


The bottom line on replication: If there is as little as a 5% chance you’ll need replication in the future…invest in a solution that has it available today. Again…the cost to migrate to another vendor’s platform down-the-road costs more than just money – as we have discussed in previous posts. Evaluate ALL of the benefits of replication before deciding against it…and don’t make the decision on cost alone.


 


Seek references of companies that have similar needs


It’s not sufficient to buy based on an analysts recommendation. Ask vendors for references from customers that “look and smell” like you. If you have 50,000 mailboxes to archive and have compliance and mailbox quota issues to address... ask for a reference of similar size that has solved similar problems with their product. You may learn more in a single reference call than several sessions with sales reps.


In conclusion, if you keep the above seven principles in mind when deciding on an email archiving platform, you are far less likely to find the need to migrate to a different platform in the future. There are no standards adhered to by archiving vendors to facilitate migration from one archiving platform to another. So…be wise and take your time to make sure your choice will meet your needs now…and for years to come.


 

Comments
| ‎12-05-2009 06:40 PM

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