Today’s IT personnel need to preserve and maintain increasingly large company archives, while ensuring quick access to vital information. In their day-to-day job, they risk losing sensitive, business-critical data of entire corporations, government agencies, financial giants or healthcare institutions.
And the issue is further compounded by deployment options – should you go for cloud or on-premise? Or should you consider a virtual archiving appliance?
Which is more affordable?
Which is more secure?
Is the age of hardware gone?
Today, we look at these questions from the perspective of on-premise email archiving solutions and help you decide whether this deployment works for your organization and industry.
We have answers to all of these questions, but let’s start from the beginning.
What is an email archive?
An email archive is a standalone IT application that connects or integrates with company email systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 or Lotus.
But an email archive doesn’t just accumulate hundreds of thousands of emails over its lifespan.
In addition to storing thousands, even millions of corporate email messages, the archiving system logs and indexes each item. This allows for efficient search in case of ediscovery requests (when email data is needed for legal reasons) or when a user is looking for a particular message in their email history. This data is kept securely within the application and is completely tamper-proof.
Why do companies implement email archiving solutions?
Some businesses may simply want to protect critical data.
On the other hand, organizations operating in regulated industries need to archive email because they have to meet very strict regulatory compliance requirements and protect themselves from litigation.
Major laws and regulatory bodies such as FINRA and HIPAA mandate the retention of electronic records and fines for non-compliance often exceed $1 million.
Without a proper email archive, looking for a particular conversation in millions of emails in a litigation case does not only take a lot of time, but costs a lot as well.
The average cost to companies during an ediscovery case is $1.8 million, while several Fortune 1000 companies pay $30 million for ediscovery annually.
In addition to compliance and ediscovery benefits, having a separate email archive alleviates company email servers and frees valuable IT time.
The global market for information archiving is growing and is expected to rise from $5.1 billion to $8.4 billion by 2022 (The Radicati Group), which proves that archiving is more important to companies than ever before.
Archiving solutions: email archiving appliance or cloud?
Email archiving on-site can be achieved through virtual machines or standalone appliances. Until recently, the global market for on-site archiving was approximately 75% compared to a 25% uptake in cloud archiving.
Clearly, these percentages have changed considerably in the last couple of years, but not everyone is happy about the cloud trend.
While cloud has a much-touted “easy-to-deploy, easy-to-maintain” reputation, it doesn’t work for all industries and organizations. In the case of heavily regulated industries, some companies still want to have full control over where their data is stored.
Benefits of on-premise archiving: control, security, reliability
The major reason why tech leaders advocate for on-premise email archiving solutions is that they are in total control of the archiving process and, more importantly, the data that resides in the archive.
For example, if you work in the public sector or in the healthcare industry, your company’s policy might be to keep all the data safely on premises. With an on-prem archiver, you get an added level of security, as your data will be properly archived under your roof.
Many IT managers, compliance officers and CIOs are aware that providers of hosted solutions, no matter how powerful their names sound, can’t take care of other companies’ data the way companies can do it themselves.
With on-premise email archiving solutions, you have complete control, authority and responsibility to define what is archived, where to store it and how to enable or restrict access to archived data.
More transparent cost structure
High-quality email archiving appliances contain enterprise-grade hardware and special data protection features that can make them costly.
Moreover, companies need to purchase the whole on-premise archiving system up front, which, unlike cloud solutions, makes archiving a capital expense.
This requires businesses to be entirely certain that a particular solution suits them and has all the relevant features before they can decide to make the purchase.
To that end, here are some questions to consider before choosing a solution:
Conversely, cloud solutions are sold per mailbox and thus appear more affordable. However, very few (if any) cloud-based solutions can mirror the feature set typically available in archiving appliances, and their per-mailbox cost structure can entail costs that are often difficult to predict.
Barriers to implementing on-premise archiving solutions and how to overcome them
In summary, there are three major barriers to the adoption of on-premise archiving solutions:
- a growing perception that they’re outdated and unnecessarily complex
- companies simply don’t want to bother with hardware maintenance
- cloud’s single-digit price per mailbox sounds inviting.
In reality, there are archiving companies that specialize in on-premise solutions, that have perfected both their systems and technical support and that can deliver excellent value for money.
Although there are many legacy solutions whose software hasn’t been updated in years, solutions that are getting very difficult to maintain and poorly designed and complex systems that require extensive training and administrator time, 60% of tech leads still put on-premise before the cloud.
They cite benefits such as:
- greater functionality
- tighter integration with email servers and LDAP
- customization capabilities (add-ons for mobile, social media and file archiving, customizable user roles and policies etc.)
- and lower costs in the long run.
How to implement an on-premise email archiving solution smoothly
Below, we listed the key steps for the successful implementation of an on-premise email archiving solution.
In case you’ve already headed down with the implementation and need specific guidance on some of the stages along the way, here’s a quick reference list:
- Email Archiving vs Backup
- Advantages of On-Premise Email Archiving
- Assessing Your Information Archiving Needs
- Migrating Legacy Data to a New Solution
- Finding the Right On-Premise Feature Set
Email archiving vs. backup
Many people think that archiving and backing up are one and the same thing. While they are similar, automated email archiving provides much more flexibility and efficiency than backup.
A backup is a snapshot of your emails, a short-term collection of your company’s emails that is typically compiled in a specific time frame, for instance, weekly or monthly.
On-premise email archiving is more of a long-term record of your emails that can be accessed at any point in the future. Archived email has the distinct advantage of being able to be searched and retrieved and, if need be, restored quicker and more efficiently than a backup.
This is because an email archive makes use of email journaling.
Advantages of on-premise email archiving
Journaling essentially makes a copy of every email that passes through the server and is then stored in a special archive, or journal mailbox, which is then sorted by the archiving software into a database.
Email archiving offers the advantage of being certain that you are compliant with any records retention laws and regulations.
It also reduces the load on the email server, meaning less time managing personal storage (PST) at both individual and administration levels.
Plus, you will be reducing administrative reliance on each employee being in charge of archiving their email. It is done automatically for them, so they do not need to think about it and can get on with their work. This is especially good for larger organizations, where hundreds of emails are sent and received every day.
Assessing your data archiving needs
While electronic records retention is mandatory for some industries (especially regulated industries such as financial, healthcare, government, and education), and highly recommended for others, the first step in implementing an on-prem solution is to understand your specific needs.
This means that you should:
- list all laws and regulations you need to comply with and check for specific requirements
- identify which communication channels your employees use and what data formats you need to capture and archive (emails, voice messages, texts, instant messaging content, gifs, etc.)
- define levels of access across the company (who needs access to the email archive, what levels of access, and user groups are needed, who needs which permissions, define if BYOD devices are restricted etc.)
- define the main drivers of email archiving for your organization (do you want to archive your data solely for potential legal action or do you frequently need to respond to FOIA requests)
Migrating legacy email data to a new solution
Before you choose your next email archiving system, you need to assess the migration process. Organizations in regulated industries rely on their legacy data as these provide vital business information, so business records mustn’t be lost. In case you’re switching between archivers, pay attention to not lose your data.
This means that you should talk to the potential vendor about:
- The number of emails they can support (e.g. whether it’s 30 million emails or fewer)
- Whether your legacy data is compatible with the archiving solution you’re considering
- Whether there will be dedicated tech support to help with migration
- The estimate of the migration process duration
- What your IT team needs to provide
- What will happen with metadata, and whether your legacy data would be date-stamped and indexed
- Is the import of legacy emails done automatically
- What’s the daily number of legacy emails that can be imported
- The cost of migration
Finding the right on-premise feature set
Numerous factors should guide your decision-making when implementing an on-premise email archiving solution.
To get the best system for your budget and requirements, you need to consider your industry, applicable laws, your business plans, your information architecture and vertical structures (which functions in your company need data from which departments), your third party vendors, and more.
This will give you a good understanding of what you do need and don’t need from your next archiving appliance.
Here are some functionalities to measure your next on-prem archiver against:
- Zero evidence spoliation (i.e. you can prove the authenticity of your archived data, verify integrity and have all the necessary metadata)
- Archive backup (i.e. check if the vendor offers disaster recovery and archive backup as another layer of data protection)
- Custom user roles and access privileges (in order to be able to set different user roles and define associated permissions depending on the functions these users play in your organization)
- Customizable retention policies (this will let you set custom rules for preserving and removal of records you’re no longer required to have. Essentially, you will avoid being liable for records you’re no longer obliged to keep)
- Speed of advanced search (you’ll be able to set various parameters and combine search criteria so that you can filter vast numbers of emails quickly to speed up search for audits, ediscovery or FOIA)
- Deduplication (you will be preserving only one single copy of an email, thus reducing the load on your storage space)
- Archiving capabilities for data sources other than email (Check if the vendor supports the archiving of social media, text messages or WhatsApp).
Once you lay down the groundwork first, you’ll have a much better idea of what kind of on-premise email archiving solution you need.
This will allow you to find exactly the combination of functionalities that will help you work in line with regulations and save you time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
When it comes to archiving appliances, it does pay off to choose wisely.
Jatheon’s on-premise email archiving solution is a product family of six appliances (6 – 96 TB), five of which are expandable. All archiving appliances come with powerful server-grade hardware, offer easy integration with all major email clients and are backed by 24/7 monitoring and tech support, free hardware maintenance, free legacy data ingestion and free appliance replacement after four years.