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As businesses look to adopt more “litigation friendly” email practices, many are turning their attention from email archiving to disaster recovery. Email archiving has been known to make the thorniest email discovery problems go away. In many organizations, however, there is a gap between email archiving and disaster recovery that can make eDiscovery costly and time consuming.

It is not uncommon to find email messages stored across five to 10 different systems, including the primary server, a backup server, tape backup, the email archive, a dedicated archive backup, local archive files on user machines, and server backups of these local archive files. With so many copies of each message, it is very difficult to ensure that centralized retention policies are followed.

Email archives must contain every discoverable email message in order to be fully effective for eDiscovery. Furthermore, it is essential that email messages are deleted from active systems and back up sources before they are deleted from the archive in accordance with organizational retention policies. When these measures are taken, producing email for litigation or compliance inquiries is often quick and painless. In reality, many organizations are now finding that their disaster recovery practices may jeopardize this ideal.

Here is the problem: the gap between most archiving and disaster recovery processes leads organizations to make three common mistakes. These mistakes can undermine a company’s eDiscovery strategy by requiring them to conduct costly searches for discoverable electronic messages stored outside of the archive.

  1. Deleting messages in the archive according to corporate retention policies but allowing users to leave messages in the primary email environment beyond the stated retention period.
  2. Leaving the retention of email messages stored in local archive files (such as PST or NSF) unmanaged and allowing messages to be retained beyond their stated retention period.
  3. Retaining back-up tapes beyond the stated retention policies for the data that they contain. In many organizations, back-up tapes are still retained indefinitely.

Unfortunately, the problem is exacerbated by a lack of integration between archiving and email disaster recovery solutions. While both categories of vendors have designed tools to store and manage historical messages, the solutions typically remain separate. As a result, the number of redundant messages balloons and the complexity of managing cross-system retention policies become extremely difficult.

As companies refine their internal email architecture to reduce risk, improve retention management, and streamline eDiscovery, they are increasingly finding that simplification is the best approach to addressing the gap between archiving and disaster recovery. In particular, organizations are finding that by implementing hybrid systems for archiving and recovery, limiting the use of local archives, leveraging off-site software-as-a-service solutions that reduce the need for onsite duplication of messages, and strictly enforcing tape purge policies, they can greatly reduce litigation risk while also reducing their total email-related costs.

As Director of Services Marketing for Dell, Paul D’Arcy is responsible for large enterprise services and software marketing. Paul joined Dell through the acquisition of MessageOne where he served as VP and Chief Marketing Officer. With thousands of customers and some of the largest software-as-a-service deployments in the world, MessageOne was one of the most successful IT software-as-a-service start-ups.

Paul holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Wesleyan University.

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