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E-mail archiving moves downmarket

CONSIDERING AN E-MAIL archiving product? You're not alone. Companies that want to archive e-mail are no longer limited to Fortune 500 financial services companies--there's a lot of interest coming from decidedly smaller businesses.

"We don't have any significant compliance obligations; we just wanted to be able to save all our e-mails in case any issues came up with customers or litigation," says Tom Quanbeck, president of the 72-person Bailiwick Data Systems Inc. in Chaska, MN, which performs multisite IT projects for the retail, financial services and hospitality industries. "We had a legal situation where if we had had a certain e-mail, it would have greatly helped our position," he adds.

Bailiwick's IT staff looked at several standalone e-mail archiving software packages, but ultimately decided on Imation's ComplianceVault, an e-mail archiving appliance that includes software from Intradyn, NAS and the customer's choice of an Exabyte VXA or LTO-3 tape auto-loader. "[We] liked that it was a standalone device and that it didn't require a SQL database," Quanbeck says. The system captures all e-mails, and its catalog is searchable by end users through a Web-based GUI. Bailiwick Data Systems has also configured it to write to tape every couple of hours for added protection and capacity.

ComplianceVault comes in 320GB, 500GB, 800GB and 1TB models, and supports Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, IMAP and POP3 environments (but not Novell GroupWise.) Available through CDW, pricing for the entry-level 320GB model is just under $10,000 and the 1TB model is $17,800. All pricing is one-time only--there are no additional licensing or maintenance fees, says Brent Ashton, U.S. marketing manager for small and medium business at Imation. "This product can be up and running in under one hour," he says.

A 1TB ComplianceVault is appropriate for surprisingly large companies. According to Ashton, if you assume that a typical office worker generates an average of 500MB of e-mail per year and you want to archive e-mail for four years, 1TB should satisfy the needs of a 500-person company.

An even less-expensive product is the OptiVault Archival Appliance from Primera Technology. With an MSRP of $3,795, it uses EMC Dantz Retrospect software to archive Exchange e-mail directly to optical DVD-R media, which is inherently WORM. "Disk and tape are great in certain applications," says Mike Mulry, product manager at Primera, but DVD-R, with a shelf life of 50 to 100 years, "is a better technology for long-term storage." Furthermore, Mulry points out, a 4.7GB DVD-R costs between $.70 and $1.50, or $.15 to $.32 per gigabyte--a fraction of disk and tape media prices.

For users who need WORM, Ashton says Imation is investigating outfitting ComplianceVault with optical disks, although nothing has been decided yet. "It's certainly cheaper than tape," he says.

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