Archiving products are bringing order to unstructured data.
E-mail archiving products from vendors such as KVS Inc. and Connected Corp., which reduce the cost of expensive disk storage, are climbing business IT managers priority lists, as pressure mounts for regulatory compliance and the cost of electronic discovery for legal cases rises.
Users have come to rely so much on e-mail, instant messaging and other forms of electronic communication that these technologies have become a repository for sensitive information. This has fueled the need to add more stringent record-keeping controls and management, in case data needs to be accessed during an audit, an investigation or a legal proceeding, experts say. The recent sanctions against Bank of America NA, including a record $10 million fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission for stalling or failing to produce documents and e-mail, signify how e-mail is fast becoming the DNA of modern corporations.
IT professional Michael Keithley said the "explosive growth of data" is driving the demand for improved data retention and e-mail archiving measures. "We implement a lot of high-availability, clustered, redundant and fault-tolerant type systems. It seems like [data] is doubling every couple of months, and its out of control," said Keithley, CIO for talent agency Creative Artists Agency Inc., in Beverly Hills, Calif. "My objective is to get information into the hands of agents as soon as possible. Because time is literally money ... the stakes are very high."
Keithley said the problem of file system and e-mail archiving is compounded at Creative Artists because of the daily insertion of rich mediascanned images, scripts, and audio and video componentsthat must be recorded and stored. He said Creative Artists could not keep up with or always successfully comply with requests from its clients to retrieve data stored in his organizations Microsoft Corp. Exchange Server environment.
"We found that more and more of our companys intellectual property was being stored in unstructured data stores like e-mail and Word files. ... We were losing a lot of value out of the data and metadata," Keithley said. Creative Artists uses KVS Enterprise Vault 5.0 for mailbox management and file system archiving. Keithley said the product supports the companys EMC Corp. Centera storage hardware installation nicely, allowing for "dramatic" shortening of the discovery process for client services.
"Its, quite frankly, nothing short of magic because it allows me to do what Microsoft and everyone else said was virtually impossible," Keithley said.
Last week, KVS released Enterprise Vault 5.0 for Content Archiving. The tool lets customers set customized retention policies for e-mail, file documents, instant messages and Microsofts SharePoint Portal Server documents, according to KVS officials in Arlington, Texas.
Analysts say government regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, SEC Rule 17 a-4, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, are accelerating corporate spending for e-mail archiving. This increase is forcing companies to re-examine how theyre managing, indexing, classifying, storing, retrieving and even deleting data.
"Before, people werent paying a lot of attention to e-mail," said analyst Julie Rahal at IDC, in Framingham, Mass. "E-mail was the elephant in the corner of unstructured information; now people are realizing how much mission-critical information is contained and housed within e-mail."
Rahal said that, in the future, e-mail archiving will combine with records management or content archiving technology to allow administrators to manage all unstructured information in the same way without having to go through separate systems. However, she said, e-mail archive vendors must step up efforts to enhance access and searching features in their tools to enable virtualization and analysis mechanisms. "Once those two very different worlds merge, it will be more powerful," she said.
To meet these demands, Connected last week unveiled its ArchiveStore/EM 3.0 offering. Restricted to the Exchange environment, the product features active archiving technology from Archive-IT, which Connected acquired last year, said Bob Brennan, chairman and CEO of Connected, also of Framingham.
ArchiveStore/EM 3.0 captures all e-mail at the mail server and subjects it to policy checks to determine archive prioritization. Along with discovery and audit capabilities, the server-based product encrypts, compresses and digitally signs all e-mail. EDS Corp. will offer ArchiveStore/EM as a service.
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Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.