Elevating e-mail to the cloud

Why cloud e-mail archiving is today easy, automated and absolutely essential.

Read time 4min 50sec
Byron Horn-Botha.
Byron Horn-Botha.

Is e-mail the bane of all our existence, or the lifeblood of communication and customer contact?

The truth is that it is probably a bit of both. Just try to go a single working day without e-mail if you wish to gauge its value. However, too many companies ignore the fact that not protecting it is a dangerous business practice.

E-mail stores a good portion of confidential business information but many organisations are either blas'e about its protection or ignorant of the availability and value of establishing an automated archive.

Today's technology solutions make automating and protection of e-mail not only easy but cost-effective; certainly a lot cheaper than losing crucial business data to cyber attacks.

With the advent of cloud computing and the multiple benefits it offers, including reduced risk of loss owing to equipment failure, many IT administrators are moving on-premises e-mail services to budget-friendly services, including Microsoft Office 365 and Google Gmail.

Just try to go a single working day without e-mail if you wish to gauge its value.

Cloud e-mail services offer excellent reliability and eliminate the cost of managing e-mail in-house. Most importantly, they provide large (or unlimited) mailbox capacity. But regardless of where e-mail archives are located, they must be preserved for legal discovery and compliance.

Standard cloud e-mail and compliance

A common challenge for cloud e-mail users is understanding how (or, indeed, if) their e-mails are being archived. Should a legal investigation or compliance review occur, ignorance isn't considered a good defence, so it is necessary to be sure of the archiving arrangements.

Note that what does routinely happen after migrating to a cloud solution is many users discover they don't have a suitable archive solution and need a third-party service. This crops up a lot with moves away from Exchange: the old Exchange journal e-mail (which contains every e-mail sent and received for each mailbox) isn't included with Office 365 and the absence of such a service can leave the organisation exposed to compliance or legal risk.

To mitigate exposure, ask yourself:

* Are you moving, or have you moved your e-mail services to the cloud?
* Do you require journaling (or the equivalent) to capture e-mail for compliance?
* Are you certain you are capturing all e-mail messages and they cannot be tampered with or accidentally deleted?
* Are you meeting regulatory requirements for your industry to keep e-mails as unalterable records?

Knowing the answers to these questions will alert you to the potential necessity for an automated e-mail archiving solution.

Can you find what the lawyers want?

E-mail is a common target for legal discovery due to its popularity as a communication tool and because it often contains key evidence for legal disputes.

However, search tools for full text search, hit highlighting, tagging and case management are not supported by most e-mail servers (which are also designed for end-users who commonly delete e-mail).

By contrast, an e-mail archiving solution designed with powerful search and discovery tools not only preserves e-mail and prevents deletion, but provides tagging, saving and exporting functionality. This accelerates legal discovery, while inbuilt retention rules automatically manage the e-mail lifecycle, keeping all e-mail evidence secure for prescribed periods.

Are you sure of your ability to respond to a request for archived information? Ask yourself:

* Could you export e-mail search results in a PST file?
* How long would it take you to respond to a formal request for e-mails?
* Have you ever needed to produce e-mails for a lawsuit, regulatory request or an investigation?
* Were the search tools sufficient to search by custodian, date and keyword?

Again, the answers could point to the necessity for an automated e-mail archive.

Will the cloud hold your e-mail?

When migrating to a cloud service, it may be necessary to upload legacy e-mail, too.

The volume could be substantial, and it might include a large number of old accounts which belonged to former employees, but which must be retained for legal and regulatory requirements.

This could drive up the storage capacity required from your Office 365, Google Mail or other service provider.

Ask yourself:

* Are you keeping years of e-mail and attachments?
* How much storage does this consume?
* How much e-mail storage does your cloud e-mail service provide?
* Can you off-load older e-mail to a third-party e-mail archive and reduce storage costs on your cloud e-mail server?

Depending on the cloud

There's no longer any question about the reliability of the top cloud e-mail providers. They are very good and rarely experience downtime. But 'rarely' is not the same thing as 'never'.

Maintaining an archive separate to your primary e-mail service provides redundancy; in a protected 24/7 accessible service, you always have access to your e-mail.

When migrating to an online e-mail service, ask yourself:

* Should (or can) I migrate my entire archive e-mail?
* What happens if the service goes down?
* Where can I store my Exchange journal e-mail for compliance?

E-mail archiving is one of those services which tend to be appreciated most when something goes wrong. Taking e-mail archiving seriously and recognising its importance is not negotiable, especially when cost-effective technology solutions are readily available to safeguard businesses against loss or legal non-compliance.

Byron Horn-Botha
Lead: Arcserve Southern Africa channel and partnerships.

Byron Horn-Botha is lead: Arcserve Southern Africa channel and partnerships. He has been involved in the technology sector in sales and management roles since he commenced his working career eight years ago. He moved from his first position at Pastel in 2012 to work for a SAP partner specialising in the SAP budgeting planning, consolidation solution and enterprise play oriented solution. In this role, he was focused on new business expansion within and outside the SAP user community. In 2014, he joined CA Southern Africa in a business development role. In 2015, Horn-Botha moved into the Arcserve arena, fulfilling the role of new business development, as an Arcserve partner, followed by the move to the 2018 Arcserve corporate position. Throughout his career, he has worked with channel partners, giving him in-depth insight into the challenges faced by the sector.

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