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E-mail archiving – tape backup just doesn’t cut it anymore

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A recent IDC estimate puts total person-to-person business E-mail messages sent worldwide in 2006 at nearly 22-billion messages a day. This number is expected to increase to as much 27-billion messages daily by 2011.

Considering this rate of growth, the challenge for many companies is now to ensure that E-mail traffic is adequately stored and is compliant with various industry, government and corporate regulations. Tape backups, still used by as much as 46% of companies to 'archive' E-Mail according to a study conducted by Osterman Research, just won't do the job.
Says Martin Tassev, MD at Loophold Security Distribution, a value added distributor of information security products for the SME and enterprise markets: "E-mail is the de facto standard for business communication and tape backups, once considered less costly and complex than E-mail archiving solutions, are proving less than effective.
"Not only is the volume of E-mail increasing but the size of individual E-mails is growing. While backing up data will preserve it against failure or disaster, archiving data preserves and protects it as well as enables fast and timeous access and retrieval whenever needed."
E-mails contain vast amounts of vital corporate intelligence, some of which is not replicated in any other data or material. This data must be easily accessible to the organisation for decision making. E-mails have also become a key part of litigation and must be produced by order of the courts.
In addition, compliance requirements, whether regulatory or self-imposed for corporate governance, now touch every organisation, no matter their size or market focus. Clearly, a storage device with no in-built intelligence cannot hope to meet organisations' needs for monitoring, fast retrieval and meticulous management of E-mail content.
Says Tassev: "There are three main requirements that must be met if organisations are to meet the business, regulatory and policy needs related to electronic communications: E-mail permanence – E-mail must be maintained in its original form without alteration or deletion; Security of E-mail – information must be protected against all threats, including unauthorised access to the E-mail and physical damage; and Auditability – E-mail must be easily accessible in a timely fashion by authorised personnel upon request."
E-mail archiving, security and compliance solutions, such as those offered by Barracuda Networks and SonicWALL, can assist to ensure ease of management and retrieval, and that security, policy and legislated requirements are enforced.
Says Tassev: "E-mail security and compliance solutions provide a powerful framework for stopping E-mail threats and managing compliance requirements. They are available as a hardened appliance or Microsoft Windows software, and usually combine an anti-spam engine with anti-phishing, anti-virus, content filtering, policy management and compliance capabilities. They assist to intelligently identify E-mails that violate compliance policies, providing monitoring and reporting and applying multiple enforcement actions.
"E-mail archiving functionality, on the other hand, effectively and securely automates the management of inbound and outbound E-mail communications. It delivers a much more centralised and secure option for storing E-mail, enabling easy and timeous retrieval of information, as well as ensuring data integrity, confidentiality and compliance by giving only authorised personnel access to the E-mail storage."
Barracuda's Message Archiver, for instance, is an integrated hardware and software solution that automatically stores and indexes all E-mail messages in real-time while making them immediately available for rapid searching and retrieval by authorised users. It takes advantage of journaling features of Microsoft Exchange and other standards-based E-mail servers to capture messages immediately, but will also import historical E-mails and PST files. To fulfil litigation demands, you can search the archives and create alerts for any E-mails that may violate either standard or custom policies.
E-mail archiving solutions usually provide both storage and compression, reducing E-mail storage costs. Greater operational efficiencies can also  achieved by enabling the migration of historical E-mail and the management of smaller message stores in the production E-mail environment. The threat protection capabilities of these solutions also ensure that historical E-mails are scanned for viruses, spyware and other malware threats before they are retrieved.
Concludes Tassev: "The obvious benefits of these solutions are cost savings, greater operational efficiencies and better security. As E-mail volumes continue to increase, more organisations will find that this technology is essential – not only for compliance purposes, but to ensure competitive advantage can be maintained."