by September 7, 2007 0 comments



Today each enterprise, irrespective of its size, deals with thousands of
e-mail on a daily basis. Most of these -mail contain essential business critical
information and data. The huge explosion of e-mail messages has prompted many
enterprises, to look beyond e-mail back-ups. A prime reason for the popularity
of e-mail archival applications is the explosion of email messages as well as
concerns about regulatory compliance and associated threats. Irrespective of
size and stature, each enterprise is subjected to have legal data retention
requirements. Most of the legal data is exchanged via e-mail. So, it becomes
essential to archive these business critical mails in such a manner that they
can be put forward within a stipulated period of time and without much fuss,
should a need arise. Failure to comply with such requests can lead to huge
losses for an enterprise.

Benefits
E-mail archival helps organizations index, store and retrieve critical
e-mail and important file attachments in an automated manner. It records the
details and content of each mail sent or received by an organization in a
tamper-proof and auditable manner.

E-mail archival solutions help improve the performance of the e-mail server
by off-loading content from the production server. Archiving also helps users to
get access to business critical mails irrespective of their age. It eliminates
the need to create risky .PST/.NSF files and enforce consistent e-mail policies.
Archiving also ensures more free space and hence lower storage cost. One of the
main driving force toward archival of e-mails is compliance with statutory
regulations, as organizations need to provide access to regulators when asked to
do so. Another important factor is litigation support. In the traditional e-mail
archival system, where information is spread across several systems within an
organization, it becomes difficult to provide e-mails in support of litigation.
Some of the compliance regulations generally met by most e-mail archiving
solutions are: Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002: Security and Exchange Commission (SEC);
HiPAA; and NASD.

Best practices in
e-mail archival

Following are some of the best
practices that will reduce some implementation, maintenance and archiving
concerns:

  1. Optimizing
    the archiving database:
    When e-mail
    archiving applications archive e-mail in a database, some of the tables of
    database require regular maintenance. They need to be serviced on a
    regular basis, as the table size might go beyond a threshold which will
    effect the performance of the archiving application. For this, you need to
    set the appropriate safety overhead and ensure that the suspect table can
    trigger a threshold alarm.
  2. Single data
    store:
    You should have a single instance
    store for archived file structure ‘coz that’s where actual data is stored.
    Since a large scale enterprise uses multiple servers, the archiving
    application is likely be able to run on these servers. So it’s preferable
    to archive and index written data in a single instance store.

  3. High-availability of archiving application:

    Many enterprises use high-availability technique to keep their exchange
    environment operational. An archiving application may also require similar
    availability. Some kind of automated failover capability should be
    included in the archiving product to avoid any operational overhead.
  4. Automated
    load balancing:
    Load balancing is a
    critical requirement as multiple archiving servers support multiple
    exchange servers. Always look for this technique either through
    traditional middleware or within the archiving application, as manual load
    balancing is time consuming.

  5. Restructuring Index:
    Even under best
    environments, an index can get corrupted. When the corrupted index points
    to thousands of e-mail entities, a rebuild is very difficult. Some of the
    key issues to consider are, whether rebuild is transparent to users,
    whether exchanged operation is compromised, and also once index is
    rebuilt, do exchange or the archiving applications need a reboot.
  6. Reporting
    and metrics:
    Managing the archive is not
    an easy task. A comprehensive metrics component helps effectively
    administer the archiving environment.
  7. Backing up
    archived data:
    Two or three copies of
    archived data can be backed up till the media refresh threshold is
    achieved. An archiving application must allow backup of the top tier
    regularly, in the storage tier hierarchy. So the old archived e-mail moved
    down the storage tier, and the top ones, are backed up on a regular basis.

In-house or hosted
There are primarily two methods through which an enterprise can store and
manage archived e-mail. You can either have the functionality developed in-house
or use an off-site service, commonly referred to as 3rd party service. Most of
the large-scale enterprises prefer to have the functionality in-house, primarily
due to security concerns. They prefer to host the server themselves and manage
data completely within their own facilities. Hosting the facility in-house has
its own advantages in terms of accessibility, reliability and security, but
requires a heavy investment. Small-scale enterprises can make do by getting the
services hosted offsite. Here, an enterprise would just need to have a VPN
connection with the offsite service provider, and would not require to buy
software or additional servers. So, even though their IT team would manage the
archival of mails but they would be hosted on an external server.

GFI MailArchiver
This is an easy to use and powerful email archiving solution. Using GFI
MailArchiver you can archive internal and external e-mails to a central archive
store, which can be maintained via a Web-based configuration. Its working
functionality is very simple–GIF MailArchiver connects to the configured mail
server, collects all e-mail stored in the mailbox and archives them to the
active database configured. It requires both SQL Server 2000 (Service Pack 3)
and SQL Server 2005 along with Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2007.

Implementation of GFI
The solution is simple to implement and use. After installation you need to
start GFI MailArchiver configuration in your Explorer. First, you need to
configure the location where you want to archive e-mails and whether you want to
exclude someone from the archiving process; which archive store you want to
store archived emails, etc. For these settings, go to the Configuration node,
under which you’ll find various configuration modules. Users can define the
archiving option based on direction, such as inbound mail, outbound mail, and
internal mail. You can define whether you want to exclude some users or archive
e-mail of all users. You need to also mention the archive store where all
archived e-mail will reside. You can attach a GFI MailArchiver 3 database via
the archive store wizard. First give the name of the archive store, as this
helps you to manage the archive store and helps users of your network to select
the correct archive store to browse and search. Select the Microsoft SQL Server,
where GFI MailArchiver 3 database is stored, from the Microsoft SQL Server box.
Next, select the authentication method you want to use, be it Windows
Authentication or Microsoft SQL Server Authentication. For SQL Server
Authentication, you need to provide the user id and login details, whereas
Windows Authentication will show the credentials of the account displayed in
parenthesis.



GFI Mail Server also provides the option to hide certain archive stores from
users. So, if you want to keep certain very old e-mail away from the network
user, you can go to the ‘archive store’ option and then select the ‘edit
setting’ option available on the right panel, against the particular store name
that you want to hide. This will open the Archive Store wizard. Here, check or
uncheck ‘allow user to browse and search this archive store’ to make the archive
store visible or hidden to users respectively. Select Finish and save the
settings. You can view the statistics of an archive store such as database
creation date, database size and number of archived mails, etc by selecting the
‘view statistic’ tab available on right panel against the particular archive
store. Through GFI Archive Stores Management feature, you can set up a queue of
new archive stores that GFI MailArchiver will start archiving as per the
schedule you configured. You can also configure the search index update schedule
as per your convenience and control the lifetime of e-mail in the archive stores
based on their content, under the retention policies node. By default, an Active
Directory user can browse and search only through e-mail, but via Access Control
page you can configure the Full Access Group, Group Manager and User Access
control. You can give full access to an Active Directory group by selecting that
group under the Full Access Group tab. You can provide full access write to a
specific Active Directory group, by going to the Group Manager tab. Provide the
Active Directory user from the Manager list, in the ‘Has access to Group’ list
and provide the Active Directory user under the group specified in the Manager
tab.

You can also configure and allowan Active Directory user to browse and search
through the e-mail of another Active Directory user, under the User Access
Control tab.

Key requirements
for GFI MailArchiver


Component

Minimum Specification
Operating System
 
Windows 2003
Server, Windows 2000 Server
Processor
 
Atleast
P4(or Higher) – 2GHz
RAM
 
Atleast
512MB
Free HDD space
Atleast
2GB
Software
 
.Net Framework
2.0, IIS, MS Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.

 

You can define the type of e-mail to be
archived, and whether to exclude certan users or guoups from archiving

Configuring Mail Server
To configure the mail server to archive, you need to go to ‘Mail Servers to
Archive’ node and then select ‘Add Mail Server.’ This will open a Mail Server
wizard, where on the first page select Local Microsoft Exchange. Select ‘Archive
e-mail from this server,’ to archive e-mail. When you proceed to the next page,
it will list all the journaling mailbox available on the mail server. Select the
desired journaling mailbox from where you want to collect and archive e-mail.
Default journaling mailbox is ExOLEDB. You can also select IMAP and provide
necessary details such as server name, IMAP port, login and password, and
mailbox folder.

The Mail Server wizard will connect to the mail server selected and would
give you a summary of the entire configuration. Select Finish, to accept the
configuration. You can also select a remote Microsoft Exchange mail server by
clicking on ‘Remote Microsoft Exchange/ Other mail server’ option on the very
first page of the Mail Server Wizard. You can define the retention policies by
selecting the Retention Policy node and then selecting Add retention policy. It
will open a retention policy wizard. Here, provide the name of the retention
policy and select the check box against ‘Retention policy in effect’ to enable
GFI MailArchiver to check mails against this retention policy.

In the ‘Subject Keyword’ page, specify the list of keywords, so that if any
e-mail contains any of them, retention policy will apply. Similarly, you can
match the whole word by selecting ‘Match whole words. You can categorize policy
by selecting the ‘Categorization Policy’ node. After naming the Categorization
policy, and after you have selected it, you need to specify keywords against
which the Categorization policy would apply.

Overall GFI MailArchiver is an easy to implement e-mail archiving solution.
With its Web-based centralized access, you can easily track and quickly restore
old business critical e-mail.

Access Control tab allows you to grant full
access privilege to IT managers and also grant full access contril of a
particular group, to the group head

 

Symantec Enterprise
Vault 2007

It’s a
software-based archiving platform that manages, stores and allows discovery
of business critical mails from the e-mail system, file server environments,
etc. It uses an intelligent classification engine to manage data, which in
turn ensures that an organization is able to retain and protect business
critical information without sacrificing on storage. Since not all data is
critical for an enterprise, the software utilizes intelligent classification
and retention technologies to capture, categorize, index and store data, and
enforce policies. It also has specialized applications such as Discovery
Accelerator and Compliance Accelerator that extract archived data to support
legal discovery, content compliance, knowledge management and information
security initiatives. This software also provides integrated content
archiving, a centralized solution that pulls corporate data from multiple
sources such as an e-mail system, PST files, file servers, Microsoft
SharePoint portals and enterprise content management solutions. Another key
feature is automatic mailbox management, which eliminates quotas and message
size restrictions and gives users a mailbox of virtually unlimited size
while maintaining the message store growth. It also enables faster backups
and improves disaster recovery and eliminates PST problem by migrating PST
files to a central archiving repository. This software has single point
administration and reporting, and comes with native support for IM
archiving.

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