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Heard of CommVault? Microsoft have!

Microsoft’s Office product development group had a problem: it was producing a virtually unmanagable amount of data. Daily software builds and the associated documentation resulted in this volume of data. As of early 2010, it was storing 237 terabytes of data; each month, about 15 Tb were added to this. This data was backed up to a host of magnetic and tape libraries. The problem was that it took a great deal of staff time to administer, including a dedicated backup verification person, and yet there was no guarantee that it would work.

Microsoft implemented CommVault’s Simpana 9 solution to address these issues. This solution integrates seamlessly with Windows Server and achieves time and money savings by deduplicating data so only one instance of data is backed up. In this instance, storage was reduced by up to 80%. Its ease of use meant spending less time on checks.

To find out more about Microsoft’s successful use of CommVault’s Simpana 9 data management software, download the case study.

Categories: Archiving, Email archiving

Data lifecycle Mis-management

There are basically 2 types of case study: one concentrates on what you should do and the other focuses on what you shouldn’t. In terms of News International’s data management behaviour, this is strictly located in the latter. The story as it currently stands is a little vague, but it is reasonable to assume that some of the details will come to light over the coming weeks and months.

It appears that News International had an archive of its emails: a very sensible policy, particularly for an organisation that is at the cutting edge of journalism and may have to justify and evidence its actions at short notice. This counts for nothing unless the data contained within the archive is managed properly.

This seems to be key point in this story. Archiving is of no use from a compliance perspective unless proper data lifecycle management is followed. Data management should be a dynamic process: from the time an email enters the organisation to the point of deletion, it should be carefully managed within a highly visible process. Deletions should occur (if at all) after a number of years as dictated by the compliance and regulatory needs of the industry, not at the whim of an individual.

Do we know for a fact that something dodgy or illegal was going on when someone in News International demanded the mass deletion of emails? Certainly not, but the suspicion of a crime could have been averted by simply following best practice in data lifecycle management. It’s not as though News Int haven’t got enough to worry about at the moment…

Read the current state of affairs from the BBC, here.

Improper data management is a whisky business

Computer Weekly article, Chivas Brothers use CommVault data deduplication to maximise disc back-up, reports that Chivas Brothers had a major issue with data volumes and, consequently, backups were taking a long time. Storage had reached 90 Tbytes, which was spread across applications including an Oracle-based ERP system and MS Exchange. Clearly: Houston we have a problem.

Chivas surveyed the market and decided to implement the Simpana solution from Domain Technologies’ partner, CommVault. The results, documented in this case study, were impressive.

It was identified that backing up 90Tbytes of data to tape was an arduous and time consuming task so a disc-based solution was the obvious replacement. However, backing up duplicate data onto a disc is a waste of time and expense. This was where the CommVault deduplication stepped up to the plate. And the results were impressive.

Across their network there were reductions of up to 90% of data backed up: this as a result of the deduplication achieved by the CommVault solution. Given this significant reduction, Chivas Brothers now retain 3 months of data on disc. This means that restores now take minutes; a stark contrast to the situation before this where tape-restores could take up to 48 hours.

Nowhere is the CommVault advantage illustrated better than in the messaging arena. Simpana not only takes the strain off mail servers through deduplication, but the granularity of mail restoration means that recovery can happen at the level of Exchange, mailbox; even individual emails!

The replacement of several legacy data management solutions with the one, Simpana, has resulted in reduction in the need for administration. Chivas estimate that this has reduced the admin overhead by 70%: one dedicated person dealing with this rather than several.

Les Gilfillan, Chivas’ network manager, is clearly impressed. He is quoted: CommVault’s deduplication has exceeded our expectations. The savings are remarkable – we didn’t expect it to be this good!”

Chivas provides a good illustration of the benefits that enterprises can achieve from a proper data management strategy with deduplication of data at its core. Leaving the company to concentrate on its core business. Chin chin!

10 things to know about Exchange 2010 archiving

February 15, 2011 1 comment

Data & storage management are an increasing challenge for all organisations and email is one of the most significant areas of concern. So the news that with Exchange 2010, Microsoft have introduced integrated email archiving, retention and discovery tools seems to offer a timely and practical solution to these problems.

The question is whether these new capabilities remove the need to consider other archiving solutions, so in this article have highlighted 10 things that should be considered before deciding the best approach for your organisation.

1. Exchange 2010 archiving does not reduce storage requirements. Unlike other archiving solutions, which remove emails from the mailboxes and Exchange thereby reducing server storage requirements, the Exchange Personal Archive moves email from a user’s primary mailbox into a secondary mailbox still within an Exchange database. Although new options exist within Exchange for storage management and personal archives can be provisioned on a different server, the mailbox data still resides within the live Exchange environment.

2. Exchange 2010 archiving could actually increase storage & backup requirements. One of the key drivers for many organisations is to control and manage PSTs more effectively and so it is vital that archiving solutions can ingest PST data which over the years can amount to TB of data. Consequently, although Exchange 2010 can transfer PST data into Personal Archives, this data is being added to the Exchange Information Store, only adding to the storage and backup requirements.

3. Use of journalling for compliance & legal risk management. Exchange supports journalling of mail messages (sent & received; all or selected messages/recipients) but storing these often vast journals is critical for when legal discovery events occurs. 3rd party archiving products archive the journal data out of Exchange and in many cases de-dupe against mailbox data; this significantly reduces the storage footprint while ensuring the data is available when needed.

4. No de-duplication – In fact, Exchange 2010 no longer supports Single Instance Storage (SIS) which will have an immediate impact on storage capacity management following migration. De-duplication is a key capability offered by other archiving products and experience shows that the de-duplication facilities can reduce storage requirements of archived data by more than 50%-80% of the original, particularly if data from journalling and file storage is de-duped in the archive. Other vendor products also offer compression options and support.
5. No off-line working. Although OWA is supported, there is no off-line option for Outlook users. This can be a vital capability for many organisations with mobile workforces who need to manage these users’ data more effectively as well as wanting users to work the same way both in and out of the office. This requirement is fully supported by a number of the archiving vendors.

6. Familiar end-user experience. This is obviously an important consideration, but the functionality offered by other archive vendors ranges from easy-to-use to integrated and familiar Outlook functions, so this is no longer such a significant issue. Also most vendors have comprehensive support for Outlook, whereas Exchange 2010 is limited to OL2007 & OL2010.

7. Support for data & file types The Exchange search and discovery tools are only able to search data available on the email platform, including email, calendar entries and instant messages, but not including public folders. The number of file types is more limited than many archiving products, many of which also support archiving of other data sources (files, Sharepoint, databases, etc).

8. Limited tools for discovery & compliance. The key advantage of 3rd party archiving products for use in discovery & legal processes is that data from multiple sources is combined which allows for a single discovery process for all relevant content. In Exchange 2010, the legal hold tools can only be applied on entire mailboxes rather then individual items and an item on legal hold contains no header information, so this would need to be retrieved from the relevant journalling item. Exchange 2010 search & discovery option offers a basic level of functionality, but the specialist discovery tools supplied with some 3rd party archiving tools are much more comprehensive for these specific legal requirements.

9. Speed up migration. For most organisations the ‘upgrade’ to Exchange 2010 will most likely involve new hardware, possibly a move to a hosted or cloud solution and certainly the migration of data to the 64bit platform. This presents the ideal opportunity to assess how implementation of an archiving solution could be used as part of the migration process. Archiving older mailbox data prior to migration, will not only optimise storage requirements on the destination platform and could potentially reduce the cost of storage capacity, but could also considerably speed up the time it takes to move the mailbox data onto the new server.

10. Enterprise CAL required for integrated archiving, mailbox search and legal hold capabilities. So although for users with existing Enterprise CAL’s there is no additional cost for introducing Personal Archiving with Exchange 2010, for others there could be an added cost consideration.

It is an interesting reflection that potentially many of the new features introduced in Exchange 2010, such as increased mailbox and database sizes, increased flexibility on storage & personal archives address many of the issues faced by Exchange users over the years, but do so in a way that does not necessarily deliver a strategic solution to improving data management – in fact it could make it worse!

Exchange 2010 has some great enhancements but the archive capabilities have some significant limitations & drawbacks. The most important thing for an organisation is to identify the key drivers for data management , i.e. storage optimisation, backup management, off-line protection, and then examine what archive strategy and tools will best deliver their requirements.

Inaction can have consequences

The Osterman report, Choosing the Right Archiving Solution, details some of the potential consequences of not implementing an email archiving solution.

1. Having to perform e-Discovery on back-up tapes; an arduous and time-consuming process – if you can locate the correct tapes.

2. Having to utilise I.T. resources to locate relevant data. This has the double effect of using expensive staff to perform tasks that could be made so much easier and taking these staff away from their day jobs.

3. Spending unnecessary budget on adding storage to buttress mail servers when the data could be moved to lower cost storage.

4. Being incapable of fulfilling legal or regulatory demands, leaving the company open to expensive lawsuits.

The case for looking at archiving is compelling. There are a range of options which vary in complexity to be considered. Hopefully the precis of this report has been useful.

Categories: Archiving, Email archiving

What is the need for email archiving?

The Osterman Report offers 7 reasons to consider adopting an email archiving solution. They are:
1. legal obligations to preserve data; for example, in an HR dispute;

2. regulatory obligations; being able to access information in a timely fashion if demanded by information authorities;

3. reducing email storage problems; taking email off the mail servers to reduce the load;

4. ability to archive other forms of data; for example, the content of instant messaging conversations;

5. freeing I.T. from email recovery; end users can recover their own messages, allowing I.T. to concentrate on core activities;

6. business intelligence; exploit information held in emails that was previously sitting idle;

7. disaster recovery; an archive can help when disaster strikes to a messaging environment.

If any (or all) of the above apply, it is worth considering how to deal with this. An archiving solution might be an effective and cost- effective solution.

Categories: Archiving, Email archiving

Archiving white paper

This is a very interesting white paper about archiving available for download. It was written by Osterman Research and makes some useful points about what to consider when thinking about implementing an archiving system. It also looks at some of the potential consequences of not archiving.
Over the coming week, we will summarise some of these points.

Categories: Archiving, Email archiving
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