What to Look for in a Cloud Email Archiving Solution in 2021

March 18, 2021 by Jatheon

Email archiving solutions can be deployed in several different ways. After the short-lived, complex software solutions of the early 2000s, the predominant models were archiving appliances, better known as on-premise archiving solutions.

Although on-prem archives still have their loyal supporters, the email archiving industry has changed profoundly with the advance of cloud technology.

In this article about cloud archiving, you’ll get information about:

  • When to choose an cloud-based solution
  • What to look for in cloud archiving software
  • How to build a proper cloud email archiving strategy
  • 5 main benefits of cloud archiving software

On-Premise vs. Cloud Archiving

In on-premise deployment, email archiving appliances are located in an organization’s own data center. This deployment type is typical of large enterprises that have an IT infrastructure necessary to house, maintain and manage the solution.

The advantages include:

  • the total control of the archiving process,
  • increased security and
  • easy monitoring of access.

As for the cost, on-premise solutions are paid per storage space and are considered a capital investment.

Although large enterprises that prioritize oversight and security still advocate in-house archives, there has been a rapid rise of cloud-based email archiving solutions. With cloud archiving software, email and other company data is kept in the cloud environment, with the archiving services provider in charge of data security and availability.

What Are the Advantages of Cloud Archiving Solutions?

An obvious advantage is that there are no storage concerns or physical servers to be maintained. Cloud systems are priced based on the number of mailboxes to be archived and are paid as a fixed per-user monthly or yearly fee.

But how do you know that a cloud solution is the right choice for your business? Here’s a quick checklist that you can use as guidance when exploring your options:

1. You are a small business

If you’re a start-up or an SMB, chances are your IT team is quite small (or non-existent). Even if you don’t have strict compliance regulations to adhere to, improving information governance, data flow management and defining email retention policies are important issues for companies of all sizes. A data archiving solution will help you kill all these birds with one stone.

And if you don’t have the resources to support an on-premise setup, choosing a cloud archiving system will solve these issues for you.

Even if you don’t have to worry about compliance laws, information governance and email management are good enough reasons to adopt an archiving solution. #CloudArchiving Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean that you should go for any cloud archiving services provider. Several email servers like Gmail, Exchange or Office 365 have built-in archiving capabilities. Their strengths lie in ease of deployment and seamless integration.

Still, there are some considerable drawbacks of such an approach:

  • very basic and often inefficient search functionality
  • trouble with export and the lack of customization and
  • complexity commonly found in third-party solutions.

Put in some effort into research and remember that only a detailed analysis of your unique needs will help you decide on the right solution.

2. You need remote access to archive

The way we do business is going through some major changes (further intensified by the global pandemic and WFH orders). An increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses embrace telecommuting, promote agility and wish to remain mobile in their business.

With a cloud email archiving solution, end users, legal teams, compliance officers and administrators can access the archive from various devices, locations and operating systems.

3. You need to optimize costs

As governance controls and regulatory requirements get tighter, the pressure to reduce costs keeps growing. Cloud-based archiving solutions are financed from the operating budget and, given that they’re sold per mailbox, your initial costs will be much lower than what you’d have to spend on an archiving appliance.

On-prem archiving systems require at least some infrastructure and IT staff, which inevitably increases costs. With cloud-based solutions, organizations don’t need the IT personnel who would set up, manage and support the solution. This usually results in considerable cost-savings.

With cloud-based solutions, organizations don’t need IT personnel who would set up, manage and support the solution. #CloudArchiving #EmailArchiving Click To Tweet

How to Build an Effective Cloud Email Archiving Strategy

As cloud archives grow in popularity, how prepared are you to migrate your current email archive to the cloud? Here are some considerations that must be taken into account before you adopt a cloud email archiving system.

Is cloud archiving a suitable model for your business?

First things first. How do you know that a cloud email archive will work for you?

Follow this general rule of thumb – if your organization is relatively large and has a solid IT department that has the know-how necessary to support the on-premise setup, perhaps you should reconsider moving to the cloud.

Cloud-based email archiving is not as cost-effective for large enterprises as it is for startups and SMBs due to the large number of mailboxes to be archived and higher fluctuation of employees.

If, on the other hand, your organization has fewer than five hundred employees or lacks the IT infrastructure necessary to support in-house archiving, cloud deployment might be a better option, both in terms of cost and agility.

Automate and centralize your email archive

An email archive helps with many things, but it has two major benefits – it makes your email searchable and represents a centralized repository of valuable corporate knowledge. Let’s start with searchability.

An email archive makes your email searchable and is a centralized repository of valuable corporate knowledge. Click To Tweet

Many organizations believe they can replace their aging on-premise email archivers by relying on native archiving options offered by popular email platforms such as Office 365. Others simply train users to periodically download and store their emails as PST files.

The problem with this kind of strategy is that emails don’t get indexed and therefore can’t be searched. An organization with 40 million emails would have to know exactly what email is stored in which PST file, go through thousands of them and load each in Outlook to be able to search them. This would take months, which simply isn’t acceptable in case your business is facing an audit or a litigation request. Moreover, the results you deliver after all this effort will most likely be incomplete.

Keeping business-critical data in PST files is not only the most unsatisfactory and rudimentary archiving strategy a business can embrace, but is inadequate backup as well. Your backup strategy should involve much more than a bunch of PST files scattered across a network of end user workstation PCs whose hardware can crash anytime.

Third-party cloud email archiving solutions can solve both problems at once. A powerful search engine that’s built using advanced search technology can return precise results in under 30 seconds.

Email archiving vendors offer companies a means of custom integration with various mail platforms and allow them to choose what is archived and for how long, as well as to define user roles and permissions and restrict access to certain data. This can never be done by simply backing up email or exporting it as PST files.

When it comes to centralizing, an email archive is a single vault which houses all your email – incoming, outgoing and internal. It can also be customized to archive your business social media channels or mobile messaging if your company has such compliance requirements.

If you’re preparing for ediscovery or proving regulatory compliance, your email archive will be your only go-to place, a central repository that will give you confidence and a peace of mind.

If you’re preparing for ediscovery or proving regulatory compliance, your email archive will be your go-to place that will give you confidence and a peace of mind. Click To Tweet

In case of cloud email archiving, your IT department won’t be able to physically control the archiving process, but you will be in charge of setting the key email retention policies and parameters. Finally, automating the archiving process means that the end users don’t have to be involved in the email management process, which will greatly reduce the risk of error and boost business productivity.

Automating the archiving process means that the end users don’t have to be involved in the email management process, which will greatly reduce the risk of error and boost business productivity. Click To Tweet

Ensure cloud archive security

You’ve heard it a million times – cloud archives are inherently insecure. But this argument can now safely be put to bed.

While on-premise email archiving has its security benefits, cloud has stepped up, especially when cloud archiving vendors cooperate with big players such as Amazon or Google. These giants have data and network security as their core competencies, which means your email archive will be perfectly safe in the cloud.

Define email retention policies

The IT department can influence the development of the email retention policy by advocating legal input and providing technical guidance. When it comes to retention periods, the IT department can also draw on areas such as regulatory policies and mandates, as well as risk mitigation best practices.

Compliance mandates can range from strict laws outlining specific time periods to broader laws or certification requirements. Segments of the financial industry, healthcare, education and government are very strictly regulated.

If your organization belongs to a heavily regulated industry, it is essential to learn which regulations cover your area and which laws apply to your particular situation. Non-specific mandates also exist. They require the enterprise to develop policies around certain documents and to demonstrate adherence to certification requirements and professional guidelines.

Regional differences in privacy laws have to be taken into account when developing an email retention policy. In North America, the courts tend to see employee email as the property of the enterprise. This is because the messages were created, stored on and retrieved from enterprise systems. In Europe, however, courts treat email as the property of the sender alone, which creates roadblocks when enterprises wish to read, keep, or act on information contained in an email.

It’s important to consider how much time can pass before an enterprise faces a lawsuit regarding data retention. For example, employment records and manuals should be stored for as long as an employee stays in the company plus additional 7 years. This includes email relevant to the employee and their HR issues.

In summary, strategizing the adoption of a cloud-based email archiving system is no different than the implementation of an in-house archive. It requires collaboration between various departments and decision-makers and careful consideration in terms of benefits and risks.

Choosing an archiving vendor that you can trust when it comes to security and technical support plays a key role in your long-term satisfaction, and so does the choice of an archiving solution that supports easy and quick email ediscovery.

What to Look for in a Cloud Email Archiving Solution

As we said before, email archiving has become an established practice for both large and small organizations, but especially for those operating in strictly regulated sectors such as financial, education or healthcare.

If your organization is more inclined towards cloud email archives, today we’ll look at a list of features you should prioritize when considering your future email archiving vendor.

1. Compatibility and integration

Even small companies now understand that the simple archiving feature contained in their email client lacks the wide range and complexity of features offered by third-party email archiving solutions.
That’s why every responsible organization that needs to prove compliance or wishes to ensure legal preparedness and business continuity must look further.

While choosing the best cloud archive for your business, make sure the solution you opt for is compatible with your email platform and that the vendor can support various archiving scenarios, including Microsoft Exchange Server on-premise, Office 365, SMTP journaling, policy-based mailbox capture or processing of PST files.

2. User interface

Remember that your admins, compliance officers and IT team won’t be the only people using the email archiving solution. End users will also have access to their personal mailbox archives and will be able to search, manage and export emails.

An archiving solution can be powerful and feature-rich, but what if it’s poorly designed and requires extensive training?

An average office worker handles 124 emails a day and, according to McKinsey Global Institute, spends 28% of the workweek reading and responding to email.

An email archiving software that’s easy to master with a user interface that saves users’ time and reduces effort should be high on your list of priorities.

With fourth-generation software that has clear information architecture, your users will always know where things are located and won’t ever have to read or watch tutorials to find advanced or hidden options.

Many email archiving providers haven’t redesigned their software in years and still have the outdated versions that were the norm in the late 2000s.

A modern user interface that’s optimized for users in 2021 needs to have an easily available search and well-executed data export. So, when choosing your provider, have in mind that every day, non-IT users need to be able to understand and use the archive without having to bother IT.

3. Robust search capabilities

In email archiving, search is the option everyone uses most frequently. For this reason, it’s vital that your archive is both easy and quick to sift through.

Large enterprises often have millions of emails housed in their archives, and to search such large numbers of emails, you need an archive that has a super-fast search engine that can return precise results in a few seconds, even when the result set contains thousands of hits.

Make sure your cloud archiver contains functionalities such as advanced search, which is designed for complex queries and pinpointing data in terabytes.

Jatheon Cloud Advanced Search

4. Ability to ingest legacy email

Only a small number of companies that are looking for an email archiver are doing it for the first time.

A vast majority have already owned a solution and are now moving to a fourth-generation cloud archiving system that can guarantee cost-effectiveness and better performance.

To maintain business continuity and stay in line with compliance regulations, your organization will need to migrate all the historical email data from the previous solution (on-premise or cloud) to the new archive.

No matter if you’re moving from one archiving vendor to another, or simply changing solutions while remaining faithful to your old archiving company, data migration is a complex, delicate process and you’ll need all the support you can get.

If you are an SMB that lacks an IT department, make sure your new archiving vendors can assist you with migration, and be extra careful with the costs as some companies charge extra for legacy data ingestion.

5. An effective archiving process

There are several ways to archive emails and in order to select the solution that can meet all your needs, it’s vital to understand your company’s archiving needs.

  • How robust do you need your infrastructure to be?
  • Is it important to retain email attachments as well?
  • Would you prefer their content to be searchable?
  • Is the archiving solution able to capture all incoming, outgoing and internal traffic?

Before you decide to buy from a particular vendor, make sure you know what questions to ask.

Here’s a good starting point:

6. Compliance and ediscovery

While email archiving offers many benefits (knowledge management, information governance, server performance, disaster recovery), compliance and auditing needs remain the main drivers behind the adoption of email archiving solutions.

Reasons range from keeping business data or personal client information secure, protected and recoverable to having evidence ready in case of an internal dispute or a lawsuit.

Some solutions are more affordable, but others have a wider range of features. Can you sacrifice a feature for slightly lower costs? What features are important in order to prove compliance with regulations and have a safety net when faced with litigation?

Firstly, make sure that the solution is compliant with government and industry regulations relevant to your vertical (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, FINRA, GLBA, GDPR, etc.).

To automate the email archiving process and ensure compliance, your solution should contain options such as permission levels, flexible retention policies and automatic email deletion after a policy expires.

Jatheon Cloud Export

If you wish to retain some emails indefinitely, make sure your cloud email archive can keep data forever. For effortless electronic discovery, and in order to minimize legal risk, an archiving solution needs a full audit trail, legal hold and a speedy export that lets you deliver email records relevant to a legal process in time.

Another thing we’ve noticed in the archiving market is that some organizations are not sure whether or not to archive emails in the first place. Before you get started, here’s a quick rundown of who should be archiving emails:

Five Benefits of Cloud-Based Archiving Solutions

Back in 2011, a report by the Radicati Group revealed that 73% of email archiving users used on-premise archiving solutions, as opposed to 27% that relied on their cloud-based counterparts. A lot has changed in the archiving industry since then.

The terminology itself has been updated ‒ email archiving became information archiving ‒ and vendors have been busy expanding their archiving portfolios by adding archiving options for digital communication beyond email (primarily social media, but also instant messaging, text messages, voice and files).

In the following years, the market for cloud-based archiving services continued to grow at a quicker pace than on-premise archiving solutions, primarily because cloud archiving required smaller initial investments. Nowadays, almost every archiving company offers both deployment options.

Cloud solutions might not be suited for everyone (see this blog post for a detailed comparison between on-premise and cloud archiving solutions), but they certainly have advantages that now cause a large number of companies to adopt a cloud archive.

1. Fit for SMBs

Most on-premise archiving solutions are a convenient choice for enterprises with 500+ employees. Such companies already have the IT infrastructure to support the on-premise setup and need considerable storage capacity. But what if your organization needs to archive information, but doesn’t need so much storage space? What if you don’t even have a proper IT department?

Opting for a cloud-based archiving service would be the logical next step. However, before you go all-in for the cloud, remember that you need to include other factors into the equation, especially retention periods. Remember that every company is unique and that only a detailed analysis of your needs can help you decide whether to go with the appliance or the cloud.

2. Flexibility

Buying an on-premise archiving appliance means buying fixed storage space. Although select archiving companies offer excellent and affordable expandability plans, the flexibility offered by cloud solutions is difficult to match.

Cloud solutions have unlimited storage space, which means that you won’t ever have to worry about hitting capacity. They allow companies to scale their capacity up and down based on their changing needs. This high level of operational agility is a major point in favor of cloud solutions.

With cloud-based archiving solutions, you won’t ever have to worry about hitting capacity. Click To Tweet

3. Accessibility

We already mentioned that with a cloud-based solution, end users, legal counselors and compliance officers can access the archive from various devices and operating systems, which is extremely convenient and also in line with today’s rapidly changing workplace trends.

Many cloud archiving software providers allow access to the archive using a mobile app, so make sure that you’re taking this into account while exploring potential solutions.

4. Lower initial costs

Because of the way the cost is structured, an on-premise archiver can be a costly venture, especially if your organization is willing to afford the real deal ‒ a maximum-security archiving appliance with server grade hardware. However, an appliance is a one-time investment.

Contrary to on-premise solutions that are sold per capacity, cloud solutions are sold per mailbox, which is why they typically have a lower initial cost and can bring substantial cost benefits.

On the other hand, cloud solutions are often presented as a lot more affordable, which can be somewhat misleading. If your company has a high employee turnover rate, having to archive legacy mailboxes and constantly add new users might raise your monthly bills over time (15-20% of all company mailboxes are inactive!).

In other words, you’ll have to constantly allocate budget to maintain the cloud, which could cause the low initial costs to accumulate. You are not likely to encounter such unpredictability of costs with an appliance. Still, if you are not in a position to spend a lot of money on the initial costs that an on-premise solution requires, the cloud might be just right for you.

Also, there are cloud vendors that charge only for active mailboxes, so make sure to ask that question while doing the evaluation.

5. Staff and overhead

Organizations using on-prem systems need to possess at least some IT infrastructure and staff, which requires additional financial resources. Moreover, they need to conduct hardware refreshes and renew hardware and software maintenance contracts (although some providers made sure this process is as cost-efficient and smooth as possible).

With cloud archiving, your organization won’t have to appoint IT personnel who would be in charge of setting up, managing and overseeing the solution. The cloud is managed by third-party professionals who take care of everything for you. Finally, not having an actual appliance will allow your firm to save power and reduce overhead.

To sum up, the dilemma of on-premises vs. cloud-based archiving solutions is not one that can be resolved easily. It requires a holistic approach that focuses on various aspects unique to your organization ‒ people, retention policies, turnover and budget concerns.

In case you want to implement a cloud archiving solution, or are looking to switch from a current cloud archiver, here are some resources to help you make a smooth transition while preserving all your business records:

A Comprehensive Guide to Cloud Security (Pt. 1)

A Comprehensive Guide to Cloud Security (Pt. 2): IAM and VPC

How to Create an Effective Cloud Email Archiving Strategy

Why a Cloud Archive Is the Best Email Archiving Solution for SMBs

Jatheon is a global leader in email, social media and mobile communications archiving with 17 years of experience in working with regulated industries. Jatheon Cloud is an AWS-based, fourth-generation cloud archiving software that comes with complete compliance and ediscovery feature set and is able to support the needs of organizations of all sizes.

If you’d like to see a quick, no-commitment demo of Jatheon’s cloud archive, you can schedule a personal, 30-minute tour.

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