E-mail is the lifeblood of many business processes, from communication to tech support and e-commerce. According to Gartner research, e-mail volume in organisations is growing, typically, by more than 30% annually and the average user receives between 50 and 100 emails a day. As a result of this growth, the handling of e-mail has become a critical business, IT and regulatory issue, driving the need for e-mail archiving solutions.
Organisations looking for an e-mail archiving solution are typically motivated by several reasons, including mailbox/server management, knowledge management, and compliance/records retention. Note that “records retention” all too often means keeping every email.
Email archiving systems are generally designed to move email from a user’s mailbox to a different storage environment, where it can be locked (so that it can’t be changed or deleted). The user typically still has access to read the email, but can no longer change it.
Some systems include back-end searching to implement knowledge management features. These are also used to assist with e-Discovery requests. The search interfaces tend to be robust enough to run multiple searches in real time. This makes finding responsive information relatively easy.
Unfortunately, archiving systems are rarely designed to permit easy extraction of archived content. The typical search interface will serve up one email at a time in a browser environment. Sometimes, an archiving solution will allow “bulk” extraction of emails, but they are typically restricted to perhaps a hundred records at a time, in order to avoid performance issues.
For e-Discovery use, an archiving system needs to be able to run search queries, and then export all the resulting emails, in native format, all at once.
When reviewing archiving systems, keep in mind that, ultimately, you will need to extract records from the system. How well the system works at doing that should be a key criteria in the system selection process.