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Rein in e-mail storage

Ezine

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Top four reasons to consider using e-mail management software

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  1. E-mail management software can assist organizations in measuring and reporting on their e-mail infrastructure, giving the organizations some clear direction on how to proceed.
  2. The software can reduce the amount of e-mail currently under management by filtering, deleting, compressing or just deleting all of it.
  3. E-mail management software can deploy the appropriate back-end levels of storage to house the data.
  4. Lastly, the software can dramatically improve the quality and types of backups and restores available by incorporating advanced snapshots and replication features.

Second, because it intercepts and scans the message on the Lotus Notes server, it does not require an agent to be deployed on each client, thus reducing the administrative work that's needed to deploy the software. The problem with this approach is that the recipient only gets a link to the e-mail message. So, they may be unable to determine the value of the text which is in the message.

Some companies may consider it a less painful alternative to take a less-refined approach to regulatory compliance and opt to archive everything and then urge users to delete all old messages. That approach should reduce the storage required for "active" e-mail, but only if the users complied. Establishing an official company policy would help encourage users to delete old missives, but you'd still be relying on them to find the time to be good corporate citizens. You might also find that you can narrow the scope of your storage-control efforts by determining which business units need to comply with legal regulations. By concentrating on those users, you may be able to reduce the amount of e-mail that needs to be filtered.

The bottom line here is that e-mail retention requirements are only going to get more and more stringent in the future. And with the cost of storage steadily dropping and litigation fees and penalties almost certain to rise, e-mail archiving is going to become a requirement for any conscientious organization. Of course, it's not the storage administrator's job to decide which e-mails should be kept and which ones should get deleted. That is the job of the company's compliance officer and members of various business units. (See "Save everything?")

Mailbox protection
Data protection is, of course, a storage admin's No. 1 responsibility. Backing up and restoring e-mail databases down to the mailbox, calendar, address book and individual message levels all present varying degrees of difficulty with ever-shrinking backup windows. Some major backup software programs such as CommVault Systems' Galaxy, Legato Networker, Tivoli Storage Manager, and Veritas Software's NetBackup offer enhanced e-mail integration tools with a new native feature in the Windows operating systems.

Microsoft Corp. offers a new API on Windows Server 2003 that allows access to the Windows Volume Shadow Copy service. Volume Shadow Copy enables a snapshot of the Microsoft Exchange database in just seconds. In conjunction with this new API, Veritas Software plans to release an update to its NetBackup product to capitalize on this new functionality with support for Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise to follow if the does demand exist, a company spokesperson says.

Some users like Ken Marsh, who is the IT Manager of the construction firm T.B. Penick & Sons Inc., located in San Diego, could not wait for this functionality to appear in traditional backup products. With users irate anytime the e-mail system went down, he chose San Diego-based StoneFly Networks' i3000 Storage Concentrators to store his Exchange database. He found it was both an economical and efficient method in which to grow storage capacity for users, while it gave him the flexibility to create disk-to-disk backups. These options reduced the number of times he needed to take his Microsoft Exchange server offline for these administrative tasks.

EMC offer users who store their Exchange and Domino databases on their Symmetrix arrays the ability to either instantly backup or restore their databases using a combination of EMC's software products such as Data Manager, Data Manager client and TimeFinder.

Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) also offers similar functionality for Exchange users who store their databases on NetApp Filers. They offer their SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange that makes Exchange snapshot-aware and creates the ability for online backups and rapid recovery of Exchange databases.

Using native and third-party tools to gain an understanding of the data in your e-mail application will go a long way toward better managing data. The challenge for current e-mail administrators will come in how they translate this insight into new management policies. Yet with ever-improving e-mail management tools and storage skills, organizations should be able to keep user angst to a minimum, meet increasingly stringent retention requirements and e-mail growth and still protect the company's valuable e-mail infrastructure.

This was first published in February 2004

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