Vendors are easing the e-mail management woes of IT admins with a variety of content-focused tools tackling compliance and liability.
The New Years holiday behind them, IT administrators are resolving to gain more control of e-mail management systems in 2005, looking to tackle looming compliance, storage and liability issues.
To assist them, vendors such as ClearStory Systems Inc., FileNet Corp., EVault Inc. and Open Text Corp. are building new automated, content-focused e-mail offerings designed to tighten the management of messaging systems.
The tools emerge as customers increasingly call for simplified software to solve complex compliance issues such as the rules imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SEC Rule 17a-4. But regulations are only part of ITs concern. Administrators also say they want to categorize, store and distribute e-mail and content more intelligently within their organizations for years to come.
"E-mail management has become a nightmare because everybody lives and dies by their e-mail," said Paul Zeien Jr., director of IS for Chicago-based Gunite Corp., a subsidiary of Transportation Technologies Industries Inc. "Theres a lot more administration, and you get a lot of wasted [production] time because people deal with e-mail instead of what theyre supposed to be doing. And then there are compliance issues."
Although the mishandling of e-mail by employees concerns him, Zeien said he is primarily interested in implementing a SarbOx-type tool to satisfy auditors, should they descend on his company.
Zeien said he plans to implement ClearStory Systems new Radiant MailManager product by the second quarter to solve his needs.
Unveiled last week by ClearStory, Radiant MailManager is an e-mail management tool providing policy-based retention rules designed to capture, index and journal all messages in a read-only repository as they are sent and received from the mail server. The product lets users search and retrieve archived e-mail with a native viewer, such as Microsoft Corp.s Outlook. The product lends a hand with storage management by ensuring all e-mail is preserved and categorized based on header, textual context and attachment content, said ClearStory officials in Westboro, Mass.
MailManager migrates messages to optical storage, CAS (content-addressed storage), NAS (network-attached storage) or other storage media based on need, while deleting local copies of the message, although a link to the archived message is provided. This approach lets users access archived e-mail without keeping old messages indefinitely, freeing storage capacity.
Announced last week by FileNet, of Costa Mesa, Calif., Email Manager is tightly integrated with its ECM (enterprise content management) architecture featuring rules on the e-mail server that selectively capture e-mail based on content. The tool could be attractive to users who are more often making decisions about e-mail storage based on content, said analysts.
According to a report by Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., by 2007 only 30 percent of investment management companies in the United States will successfully integrate regulatory compliance, performance and risk management capabilities.
Brian Dennen, chief compliance officer for San Francisco-based Redwood Trading LLC, said the regulatory responsibilities his company faces have led to unique retention needs.
"You cant have an employee make promises to customers that are unwarranted or not backed up," said Dennen, an EVault ProMail customer who said about 50 to 70 e-mails are flagged daily for inspection. "You need a way to review [e-mail] and [determine] whats going out is appropriate. On such a large scale, its hard to do." Dennen said ProMail allowed his organization to review, access and perform keyword searches on stored messages, as well as to archive instant messaging data, which previous tools could not handle.
EVault officials said the Emeryville, Calif., company will introduce next quarter a stand-alone, compliance-based product geared toward investment advisers. The software will capture and distribute e-mail according to set compliance or violations rules. It also generates a series of reports sent to auditors for remediation.
For its part, Open Text, of Waterloo, Ontario, will unveil Livelink for e-mail management this quarter, said officials. The product combines drag-and-drop e-mail classification records management with OpenTexts existing archive server.
The software lets RSIs (record series identifiers) define an active or passive life cycle for an e-mail record and determine when it can be deleted. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
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.