A company should put an email records retention policy in place before they look at solutions for any kind of archiving....
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It's all about meeting regulatory requirements. Most companies in the U.S., and many companies around the world, have various regulations covering electronic data retention. Whether you're a private or public company, there are data retention regulations for almost anyone who employs and does business in the U.S., so understanding those before you go out and spend money on technology and products and consulting will help you avoid problems.
I've seen companies that have decided to attack their problems by spending capital to buy technology -- only to determine that there were other problems they needed to solve, and the technology they bought really doesn't solve that. The "common sense" first step in understanding retention is really to create the records retention policy, so that you know exactly what you need to be doing and the kind of technology you need to meet an objective before spending capital.
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