Archive for the ‘Exchange 2010’ Category

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.

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