Archiving and policy-based retention are not new technologies, although the companies that offer these have provided substantially enhanced products over the years; so much so that today’s solutions satisfy a wide range of customer requirements. As companies worry more about big data, ediscovery and why they’re saving data, the additional benefits of policy-based retention become more apparent.
Why do companies archive email data?
First generation archiving products served a simple purpose: overcome the limitations of mailbox quotas in Exchange and the high cost of disk storage.
Archiving solutions provided some level of retrieval, but were more focused on getting email off mail servers and onto lower-cost secondary storage. For some companies, this was enough, and sufficiently cost-effective that they simply archived everything into seemingly perpetual storage.
Today’s businesses are markedly different from those early pioneers:
- Velocity of email is tremendous – typical workers can receive hundreds of emails per day
- Email is tremendously repetitive – multiple copies of email data, often including attachments, are routine
- Email itself has become a primary transport mechanism for company data – when was the last time you remember a company physically mailing a contract?
- Archived email is frequently searched and retrieved – from freedom of information requests to regulatory challenges to legal discovery, email is material and must be retrieved
- Compliance regulations and Legal Holds mandate that company preserve relevant correspondence, including email
- Storage, on the other hand, is fairly inexpensive and cloud options are even less expensive
All of these differences might suggest that it is reasonable for organizations to adopt an all-encompassing save-everything-forever strategy, however, that’s not always the case.
There is often too much email data. A ‘save everything’ strategy can impinge on a company’s ability to search and retrieve relevant email data.
5 Reasons to consider policy-based retention
Using policies to drive what and how information is retained can add true information management to retained email data, and many companies find those benefits are a more effective means to solve today’s email data challenges:
- Most email is transient in nature – it may have value now, but its future value will diminish
To determine the “value” of email data, companies need to understand why they’re saving it in the first place
- Storage may be inexpensive but it isn’t free
In fact, while storage costs are decreasing 20% annually, email data is growing at 50+% – there will always be more email than capacity to retain it, and don’t forget that retention costs are fixed, annual costs
- Compliance and discovery failures are expensive
An organization’s inability to find relevant information or email data which by law they should retain usually results in fines, some of which are severe.
- The sheer volume of email data hinders compliance and discovery searches
The difficulty, cost and time required to locate and refine data that is unmanaged is one of the reasons that many companies fail to satisfy these requests and are fined – despite the likelihood that they DO have the information requested (they just can’t find it)
- Over-retaining email data results in extraneous costs
For information and discovery requests companies much search ALL email data and produce anything which is relevant, despite it being repetitive, redundant, or potentially beyond the timeframe during which they had to retain it
Policy-based retention addresses all the challenges outlined above, and does so in a very non-intrusive, highly automated matter. Automation and non-disruption are key: users rarely know what needs to be preserved, nor for how long.
Once preserved, email data is frequently forgotten, which is why an automated solution is important. Data long forgotten will still be deleted at the appropriate time, but by the system, not the user.