How to write an archiving program RFP


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Rorie McBride, technical support manager at British Telecom in Belfast, went through a process similar to that of Formes. McBride was looking at archiving products for a managed services customer he can't name that has 14,000 mailboxes and an archive load of 8.5 million messages a month, which is up from 6 million when he started.

McBride's primary concern was to find a product that could deal with that volume. His second concern was training all those users on a new application. Third, he wanted to make sure the application could scale to the size of the growing archive and perform indexing and backup.

Part of the reason the company was archiving was for compliance. In addition, internal audit procedures required that email be produced when needed. "The way you have to approach that, when you don't have archiving, is [by] using your backup as an archive, which is virtually impossible and time-consuming," says McBride. While the company had been doing just that for three years, it was no longer possible with the current volume, he adds.

British Telecom received evaluation versions of several packages for testing. "My team basically thrashed them for a month," says McBride. "All of them had their plusses and minuses, but when it came down to it, we were familiar with the way [the] CommVault [product] worked" because that's what the company uses for backup. This helped ease the training issue. "Ultimately, what it came down to was

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price and ease of use," he says.

Database and file archiving
It can be complicated to archive database records, says StorageIO's Schulz. "Are you archiving the whole table, or extracting rows and mapping?" For example, to preserve the context of a single transaction, you may need to pull rows out of several databases. Restoring data back into the database can be problematic as well, he adds.

In the case of file archiving, the issue is file systems; for example, a file archiving system using CIFS can't be used on an OS using NFS, and vice versa, says Gartner's DiCenzo. Moreover, on the Unix platform, vendors either need access to the kernel or have to have their own file system layered on top, she says.

Some email archiving vendors are partnering with file archiving vendors, says DiCenzo. For example, CA resells Arkivio Inc., while Quest Software Inc. resells BridgeHead Software's product. "But there's a difference between bundling two products and having true integration," she says (see "Email archiving programs," PDF).

The archiving market is still fairly young and still changing, according to DiCenzo. "If you're going to wait for the perfect solution, you're still five to 10 years away," she says. But archiving has such strong benefits that it's worth looking at and beginning with today, even if it means you have to migrate in the future, she adds.

Click here for key considerations of Email archiving programs (PDF).

This was first published in August 2007

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