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Experts outline how to shop for e-mail archiving tools

Kevin Komiega

Are end users ready to handle the gathering regulatory storm?

Regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules 17a-3 and 17a-4 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), have put e-mail archiving, the long-term storage of e-mail and instant messaging documents, on the short list of things to do for IT managers across all industries.

"The underlying idea behind e-mail archiving [for regulatory compliance] is to treat electronic messages in the same way that you treat hard-copy documents," said Masha Khmartseva, an analyst at The Radicati Group Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.

However, not all e-mail storage concerns are regulatory. Federal regulations are a factor, but the sheer size of e-mail storage poses its own problems. Khmartseva said a typical corporate e-mail account processes about 9.6 MB of data each day, an amount that will likely double over the next four years.

"E-mail servers were not designed to store such massive amounts of data," she said.

Common misconceptions

Peter Gerr, a technology analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said even with the high-profile lawsuits and billion dollar fines being handed down within the financial services industry, most storage vendors still believe that WORM (Write-Once Read Many) is a requirement of the SEC 17a-3 & 4 regulation. "This is simply not the case."

"The biggest threat

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to both the storage industry and the end-user community is the current misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the regulations," he said.

The Radicati Group released a report last May that showed users understand e-mail archiving as an issue, but they haven't gotten around to doing anything about it.

Of the companies Radicati surveyed, 86% said e-mail archiving is important, although 63% reported that they didn't have an e-mail archiving policy. Radicati surveyed 105 CEOs, IT managers and presidents of major businesses in varied industries.

What to look for

The Radicati Group suggested that customers look for several key features when hunting for archiving tools. E-mail archiving tools must be able to preserve all messages in their original form, prevent users from modifying original messages, support non-rewritable disk technology, delete stored messages after a set period of time and have advanced search capabilities.

Michael Sherwood, CIO for the City of Oceanside, Calif., began the search for e-mail archiving software back in --> 98, and, admittedly, his options were limited.

"We looked for [Microsoft] Exchange integration and search capabilities within the product," he said.

Sherwood deployed an e-mail archiving solution from KVS Inc., and ran into some obstacles along the way, but they weren't software-related.

"We had some policy control problems, and we underestimated the hard drive space that we needed," Sherwood said.

Radicati's Khmartseva said some of the top vendors and service providers in the marketplace include KVS, Legato Systems inc., Commvault Systems Inc., Persist Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., eManage Inc., Veritas Software Corp., Zantaz Inc., Iron Mountain Inc., and Educom TS Inc.

According to the Radicati Group, the e-mail archiving market will generate upwards of $164 million in sales by the end of 2003. The firm expects the market to explode to $1.5 billion by the end of 2007.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer

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