I’m working on a new feature article for Storage Magazine focused on selecting an enterprise email archiving product. This is something I’ve done quite a bit of work around, so I decided to redirect it into a “bride magazine” type “ten things to look for” item. If you too know about the field of email archiving products, how about weighing in with a comment or email with your opinion?
Without further ado:
The ten technical things some email archiving products do and others do not do*
- Capture all messages – Can the archiving system really guarantee that every message is captured? Really? Even if a user does the old “double-delete” and gets rid of every copy on the system before the “archive sweep” happens?
- Search and e-discovery – It’s amazing to me that some archiving systems have really terrible search capabilities. But more important is whether they can handle real e-discovery requests from the legal department.
- Record user metadata – Capturing what users do with a message (read, file, ignore, forward) is a tough nut to crack, and it might just be impossible with some archiving technologies!
- Archive stuff other than email – Some are general archives that can take just about any content, while others are purpose-built for email. I am hemming and hawing on whether this is critical in an email archiving product, and which is preferrable…
- Security and chain of custody – How secure is the archive content? If the answer is “kinda” then your legal department is not going to be happy!
- Ingest an existing mail store or PST file – It’s great when an archiving system can capture every email once it’s installed, but it’s a whole other matter to be able to pull in pre-existing content. But beware! You have to flag this stuff as possibly incomplete and perhaps even unreliable!
- Integrate with mail clients – What does the end user see? Is it an unfamiliar web link or a reassuring Outlook window? What about Outlook Web Access users? Or the 8,000 other email clients?
- Allow off-line access – Can a user access the archive when they’re on a plane? Can they see it on the train? Would they, could they in the park? Will you, will you when your data center goes dark?
- Integrate with third-party tools – How well will the archive really serve legal if it can’t export messages to their favorite search tool? Note – some can even talk directly with these products!
- Integrate with mobile users – Ok, I am on an iPhone in the enterprise crusade, but I’ll admit that lots of folks use BlackBerries and Windows Mobile (and Symbian) too. How can they access the archive?
I’ve worked with most of the products out there, and know who can and can’t do these things. But not all are important to everyone, so I just can’t say “this product is best.” But I’m very interested in your opinion. What key technical differentiators would you suggest?
* Not the actual article title!