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E-mail Archiving: A Storage Problem After All

If you think of e-mail archiving and compliance largely as a storage problem, you're not alone. Apparently, traditional storage vendors do too, and are moving fast and furiously to stake their claim to a market pioneered by vendors such as Educom, IXOS, KVS and Zantaz.

Last month saw e-mail archiving related announcements from Connected, StorageTek and Veritas. Earlier this fall, EMC acquired both Legato--and by extension its EmailXtender family of products--and Documentum, which develops document management software.

StorageTek's plan is to distribute e-mail archiving software from IXOS, specifically, its IXOS-eCONserver for Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, which it will rebrand as Email Archive Master, Email Archive Master with Search and Retrieval and Audit Master. In addition, StorageTek has gained reseller rights to the rest of the IXOS product line.

This is not the first e-mail management solution that StorageTek has offered. The company currently resells Legato's (now EMC's) EmailXtender software under the Email Xcelerator brand. But while the two companies still have "a healthy relationship," says Roger Good, StorageTek director of global services, the company will "probably be transitioning away" from the Legato offerings.

At issue is scale, Good says, making no mention of Legato's recent acquisition by EMC. With the IXOS line, StorageTek has happened on a product that can support "the number of users, environments, languages and continents" its customers need. For example, eCONserver supports the double-byte character set critical for Asian markets.

Veritas, meanwhile, has announced its first foray into the archival space with its Data Life cycle Manager (DLM), which is slated to ship in Q1 '04. Formerly known as Storage Migrator for Windows, which included basic hierarchical storage management (HSM) capabilities, DLM also includes search and index capabilities, a policy engine and is integrated with the company's NetBackup data protection software. With DLM, NetBackup users can sweep existing backup tapes, and retroactively move that content into a compliant archive. DLM supports the Windows file system and Microsoft Exchange data; it will add support for Lotus Notes and instant messaging next year.

Not to be left out, PC backup provider Connected, in Framingham, MA, acquired British firm Archive-it, which makes a secure e-mail archive tool called MailStore. Based on open-standards technology such as Java, LDAP, IMAP and HTML, the product was developed from the outset to address compliance. That, explains John Iball, Archive-it CTO, entails demonstrating security, content integrity (through digital signatures) and maintaining an audit trail, to name a few.

Over the next 12 months, MailStore will be integrated into the Connected family, and rebranded as Connected ArchiveStore/EM, and will benefit from Connected's data reduction technologies.

Why all the fuss over e-mail? Why now? One reason is clearly recent legislations such as the infamous Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Then there's the level of importance e-mail has assumed in the organization. "Before, e-mail was used for casual conversations," says StorageTek's Good. But today, "intellectual property, patent disclosures, etc. are all being transmitted via e-mail."

At the same time, unfortunately, there is practically no control over how those e-mails are managed. "Storage management has been placed into the hands of individual users, who all make individual decisions on a data's life cycle," says Good. Effectively, that means that the average organization has "the same number of storage managers as there are e-mail users."

But realistically, e-mail is only a first step down the road toward compliance and better storage management, says Greg Nicastro, Connected vice president of corporate development. "Over time, there will be more and more compelling legal reasons to archive unstructured data," i.e., user files such as Word and Excel documents, "not just e-mail." That plays into one of MailStore's strengths, Nicastro hopes: a flexible standards-based architecture that can be readily extended to support distributed, unstructured data.

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