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Retrieval is the real trick of e-mail archiving

The e-mail archiving market has grown considerably in recent years, largely because of stringent data retention regulations that are taking hold across the globe. According to Ferris Research consultant Marc Lueschner, who has been working in the areas of PC- and host-based electronic messaging for more than a decade, this growth trend won't wane anytime soon. talked with Lueschner about the state of the e-mail archiving market today. The consultant, who is based in France, also offered his perspective on how the United States compares to the rest of the world in the adoption of e-mail archiving systems. And he offered advice for those considering the purchase of such a system.

Marc Lueschner, Ferris Research
Marc Lueschner, Ferris Research

How have attitudes toward e-mail archiving changed in recent years?
Two years ago, I would say less than half a percent of enterprise customers were concerned about e-mail archiving. Today, I would say 12-15% of corporate customers have implemented an e-mail archiving solution. Another 30% are considering the use of e-mail archiving. Are data retention regulations driving the adoption of e-mail archiving technology outside of the United States?
Definitely. Those regulations were initially driven by the U.S. then adopted a little bit by companies [in] Germany, France and the northern [European] countries. Now, the Asia-Pacific countries like Japan and Singapore are starting in that area as well. I would say the U.S. market is probably still a good year ahead of the Europeans. The Asian markets are probably one year behind the Europeans. What are the most highly regulated industries?
I would say the most regulated industries are definitely the government sector, financial, insurance and pharmaceutical.

Once you've understood the advantage of e-mail archiving, then you'll see that it's not the archiving aspect of the solution, it's the retrieving aspect.

Marc Lueschner, Ferris Research


That is pretty much the top four. From there, let's say legal offices and so on are becoming more and more regulated as well. How should IT departments go about building a business case for e-mail archiving systems?
Once you've understood the advantage of e-mail archiving, then you'll see that it's not the archiving aspect of the solution, it's the retrieving aspect. That means you can better find knowledge in records in terms of e-mails and so on. Once you understand that, then it's much easier to convince management that e-mail archiving would be a good solution. How can a company decide what e-mail archiving system is right for its needs?
You need to understand the requirements of the e-mail system in terms of traffic and users; understand how well an e-mail archiving system integrates into your existing e-mail environment; usability; searching and retrieving; support; and cost. Those are pretty much the key points. Do you see any other key trends taking shape in the area of e-mail archiving?
The problem with e-mail archiving solutions is that if you have a compliance issue, you need to find specific pieces of information. The question is pretty much, 'What can be done to make that task a lot easier?' That is a booming market. There are a few specialized companies which are just focusing on the searching, indexing and retrieving element for e-mail archiving. You need to think about it like a search engine like Google for archived content. They believe that is one of the most important things for the future.

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Are there some best practices for managing user accounts and IDs?
That is a pretty interesting topic because we felt initially that it was unrelated to e-mail archiving. But [we realized] it depends how broad the term 'e-mail archiving' is for you. If e-mail archiving also contains instant messaging, then you need to know all the identities of a user. You need to have an identity management system. Out of the identity management system, you have a user name and all aliases for an end user. The e-mail archiving system needs to make sure it tracks everything in regards to e-mail or instant messaging traffic of a user.

Also, there is legislation in the U.S. [that says] that you need to keep all the information for at least three years after an employee leaves a company. In other words, it doesn't help you if all you do is archive the e-mails. You also need to understand the identity behind them.

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