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Archiving: The Secret Sauce to IT Transformation (Part 3)

Lady Backup closes the 3rd part of this series by looking at archiving solution requirements.    I’ll frame this in the context of the key archiving benefits discussed in the last blog.

One important differentiation is whether your archive solution can handle multiple content types.  There are lots of solutions out there that specialize in one content archiving type but an integrated content archiving approach eliminates even more silos in your IT environment.

Another consideration is the archival storage footprint.  Here a combination of single instancing and deduplication can shrink the archival storage requirements.  When we think about retention in years, decades or longer, this is a key consideration.

Benefit 1: Archiving increases operational efficiency.

You want an archiving solution that can provide a phased approach to keeping your production environment lean.

Take an example from email…. After 90 days, you might want to replace attachments with a pointer to content stored in the archive – seamlessly available to your users.  And then after 2 years you might want to completely remove the content from the production environment but still allow users to search the archive  (until its retention period expires).

The same concept can be applied to file systems, for example, if you have an integrated content archiving solution.

Benefit 2: Archiving improves end user productivity. 

When it comes to users, simple is better.  So here, an intuitive, easy to use search interface is important.  Search functionality should include basic searches (e.g. date based) or more granular searches (e.g. keywords).  You may also want to allow users to restore files as a result of an archive search.

But you will probably also need to support more sophisticated administrator searches. When I say “discovery search and holds”  – I am not only talking about litigation.  There are many examples where internal teams need to do investigative searches, say for HR, intellectual property, and even finance related situations.

Your archive should support both search requirements – for business productivity but also to securely hold content that is subject to any type of audit, investigation, etc.

Benefit 3: Archiving consistently manages retention policies.

Your archive should be capable to execute as simple or complex rules to collect, store, retain and ultimately dispose of content that meets your corporate policies and/or comply with regulatory obligations.    Your archiving solution should give you the ability to treat all content the same or to allow for different policies by different groups/users and/or different content types.

Finally, many people still confuse their backup with an archive.  Let’s be clear – your backup is NOT an archive.  I’ll have much more to say on this topic in future posts…

LB

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Archiving for Success – A Shopping Guide

You are a storage administrator and you have likely heard about the benefits of moving old and inactive content from primary storage to low-cost storage for the storage savings. You also want to keep your content online where it can be easily accessed for legal discovery. In other words, you want to ‘archive’ old enterprise content.

Before you begin to shop around with vendors, it is important to consider these five key areas:

1. What content do you want to archive?

Like most organizations, you have many types of active content. One widely used practice is to categorize data as being structured or unstructured. Structured data refers to data contained in a structured database, such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL. Specialized archive tools exist for structured information. Unstructured information refers to file shares, email and other messaging applications. The leading archiving applications support email, instant messaging, files and Microsoft SharePoint. Be sure to ask any vendor you consider what content types they support.

2. How well does the archive storage scale?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you select an archive application is to ignore how it will scale after two or more years of archiving. Depending on the size of your organizations, you can expect TB’s of archive content to accumulate. How the archive is designed with respect to its index, storage containers, deduplication and compression will go a long way to determine how well it performs after multiple years of storage. Consider the architecture and design of the archive, but better yet speak with customers who have long-term experience with the archive application.

3. How does the archive impact end users?

If you are planning to archive email and files consider the end user experience after the content is archived. Can users continue to access their archived email via Outlook in the example of Microsoft Exchange? Can they access archived email via Outlook Web Access (OWA) or from a mobile device? If files are archived, can they be recalled via a shortcut or link? Carefully identify all the means that end users connect with their email and files and ask each vendor to demonstrate how they perform.

4. How well does the archive perform for eDiscovery?

An important use of archiving is to search its content for legal discovery. Certainly you want to test the eDiscovery application for its ease-of-use and feature/functions. But it is just as important to check the eDiscovery performance when searching large volumes of archive data. It is common for eDiscovery searches to take hours or days when searching TB’s of archive data. This is another area where it is worth your time to check with a customer reference who has long-term experience using the eDiscovery search tool.

5. How well does the archive perform deletion?

Archive applications all do a fine job of collecting information, but it is just as important to cleanup old data. This important feature is often overlooked when shopping for archiving. Disposition rules are configurable to run per a schedule you define. Once the data is marked for deletion, the underlying storage must respond by recovering disk space and making it useable to new archive content. The better archive applications have processes to deal with disk fragmentation and cleanup.

Summary

Archiving is a valuable application that can deliver multiple benefits in your organization. The five tips here are just a few of the important areas to consider when shopping for an archive application. The common thread of all five is archive storage growth and how it impacts archive performance. Here customers references are very valuable in your overall decision making process.

BYOD: Bring Your Own . . . Disaster?

While the “Bring Your Own Device” phenomenon seems to be gathering even more momentum, few organizations seem to be working on the compliance issues that BYOD can create.  BYOD is clearly an important technology wave, but without some thoughtful planning, this BYOD could easily turn into “Bring Your Own Disaster”.

BYOD can be loosely defined as employees using their own devices to access company resources and complete job-related tasks.  In the real-world, BYOD can be as simple as an employee using personal funds to purchase a cell phone for business use; or as complex as an employee-purchased tablet (or laptop!) with monthly wireless charges reimbursed by the company and access to the company network encouraged.   These devices can boost productivity but with an impact.  Some companies have found that several hundred applications — typically unapproved and many completely unknown to the company — are touching their network from employee smartphones.

BYOD creates concerns that need to be addressed, or at least considered.  In the more complex situations (usually with laptops or tablets), both corporate and personal data will probably be mixed on the device.  If a mixed use device contains illegal or infringing data, is the company responsible?  If a lawsuit or investigation requires access to the employee’s data, does the company have the right — or obligation — to collect relevant information from the device?  What if it has the obligation but not the right?   And what happens if data is clearly relevant to a company issue but also clearly personal to the employee — will the employee resist?

Specific regulations regarding data retention or security may also be triggered.  How does an employer insure that record content created on these devices, which may have never touched a corporate server, is retained for required retention periods?  Insuring compliance with regulations such as HIPAA (related to health information) and 17a-4 (broker-dealer communications) is unlikely without the company having some access to and knowledge of information created and/or stored on the device.  Outside the US, the problem can become more difficult because data privacy laws further limit the company’s access to the information.

What can you do?  Although the ultimate solutions will likely be technology based, start with policies.  Dust off your records retention, email retention, corporate network, cell phone, security and other related policies and read them with an eye on BYOD issues. Consider whether the company can or should mandate access to a personal device used for corporate purposes, or create an obligation granting access to the device if it has data necessary for the company’s regulatory requirements or legal requests.  There is not yet much guidance from the courts on whether this is sufficient, but putting these requirements in writing is a start.

Longer term solutions may be technology based.  Access to company resources via smartphone and tablets can be controlled through security applications installed on the device.  Applications (like EMC’s Syncplicity) can deliver the convenience and open collaboration of an application like DropBox but with corporate controls.  And some creative planning can insure that most email and documents available on a smartphone or tablet are also on a corporate network for easier access and retention.

But beware —  employees and employers may not see eye-to-eye on many of these concerns. For example  over 75% of employees said they would not give an employer access to see the apps installed on their device and would not permit a tracking application to identify their whereabouts.  

Like it or not, BYOD is here.  Giving it some consideration and planning now can help you ensure the productivity side of BYOD without the disaster.

Understanding what’s new in Exchange 2013 for Archiving and eDiscovery

With the release of Exchange 2013, Microsoft has delivered its third attempt at filling the need for email archiving and eDiscovery for its flagship email application Exchange. In the past, Microsoft largely viewed archiving as a curiosity and left it to the domain of 3rd-parties. Beginning with Exchange 2007, Microsoft introduced large, low-cost mailboxes allowing users to keep multi GB’s of mail. They also added basic features to meet compliance related requirements such as multi-mailbox search and legal hold.
With Exchange 2013, Microsoft goes one step further to close the gap with 3rd-party email archiving solutions for archiving and eDiscovery. The question remains whether or not the archiving and eDiscovery features provided with Exchange 2013 are “good enough” or if a 3rd-party solution is preferred.

New Features for eDiscovery

For eDiscovery, Exchange 2013 introduces the ability to search across Exchange and SharePoint with a single search. This new capability partially eliminates the frustration of users having to search Exchange and SharePoint separately for legal discovery. Exchange 2013’s discovery capability still lacks the ability to search PST’s unless they are re-introduced into Exchange, cannot integrate with litigation or case management systems and cannot index or search files stored on network shares. Finally, keep in mind the new SharePoint 2013 eDiscovery Center for searching Exchange and SharePoint only supports the new 2013 versions of Exchange and Sharepoint. There is no support for searching data stored in prior versions.

New Features for Archiving

The archiving features for Exchange remain largely unchanged from Exchange 2010. Large, low-cost mailboxes up to 25 GB remain, as do Personal Archives which have been re-named “In-place Archives”. OWA basic search was improved to include In-place Archives, but In-place Archives remain inaccessible to mobile devices and to Outlook for Mac. Exchange 2013 improves legal holds with a new feature it calls “In-place Hold”. With Exchange 2010 legal holds were placed on an entire mailbox, now a legal hold can be placed on a single item following a query search or based on age or keyword content.

The Key Question

For organizations, the question remains whether or not the basic archiving and eDiscovery capability provided with Exchange 2013 is good enough. The answer of course varies for each organization. An important factor to consider is how your organization plans to deploy Exchange. In the past, Exchange has been largely deployed on-premise. With Office 365, many organizations are adopting a cloud-based email services for its cost and deployment advantages. Organizations with heavy legal discovery loads will favor 3rd-party archives for their ability to search all content – email, files and SharePoint without being restricted to the latest version.

Archiving: The Secret Sauce to IT Transformation (Part 2)

Lady Backup asserts that there is a key enabler in IT transformation that EMC hasn’t paid enough attention to: archiving.
To understand why, let’s look at the 3 key benefits of archiving:
Benefit 1: Archiving increases operational efficiency.
How old are the emails stored in your email system? How frequently are files older than a year accessed in your file servers? How many sites are sat untouched in SharePoint?
Archiving allows you to be smart in how you retain content by storing aged content outside of your production environment. First, this reduces the storage capacity required. But also a lean production environment improves backup and recovery, increases application performance, and eases application maintenance/upgrades.
Benefit 2: Archiving improves end user productivity.
Data growth is not just a challenge for the infrastructure – it is also a challenge for end users to find content.
Take this scenario: you are trying to find a Word document created a year ago. Was it sent to by email? Did you save it to your PC hard drive? Or did you store on a network drive? Or maybe it was uploaded into a SharePoint site? Where do you look first??
Your archive can be the first stop for users to do granular searches for content, saving time hunting around for the file or worse, recreating it because it can’t be found.
Benefit 3: Archiving consistently manages retention policies.
Retention management not only keeps your data volumes under control, but from a corporate governance perspective you can consistently enforce retention policies.
Archiving allows you to consistently and automatically execute policies that meet your company’s policies and/or your regulatory requirements.
Let’s face it – data volumes are challenging a “keep everything forever” mentality.
Next week, we’ll look at considerations for an archiving solution. LB

Reflections From LegalTech

Last week marked the latest iteration of LegalTech New York, “the most important legal technology event of the year.”  

I cannot begin to give you a play-by-play of the event, but I can give you my view on three trends I saw from visitors to the EMC Booth, hallway discussions and meetings with customers and analysts: 

1.  Information Governance has arrived.  While many topics were of interest, including eDiscovery, privacy, security, compliance, iPads, etc., there’s a better realization that we cannot approach these issues individually.  The umbrella of Information Governance gives all of us — legal, IT, Records, Security, Compliance officers, “the business”, the executive suite, etc. — a better platform from which to work. 

2.  Machine Brains are promising.  While technology-assisted review for eDiscovery was a very hot topic, there’s a growing understanding that these machine classification technologies have a lot of promise in other areas.  Using machines to assist with archiving, data classification, retention, etc. is a significant area of interest.  (As an aside, I also thought I saw the beginnings of some healthy realization that these tools are not “push button” but require process, knowledge and some actual work).  

3.  Security, security, security.  All of us love our technology tools, whether an iPad, Nexus 7 or even a Blackberry.  And these tools do make us more productive and efficient.  But the security problems that we’ve always had are now that much worse with data residing in more locations and with significantly more access (legal or unlawful).  It’s not a disaster waiting to happen — it’s one that’s happening and waiting to be discovered.  (Again, it’s an issue that can best be addressed as part of a larger overall InfoGov program). 

If you were there, please add your comments below about what you took away from the show.  

 

 

Archiving: The Secret Sauce to IT Transformation (Part 1)

Lady Backup is making her debut to EMC SourceOne Insider.  But don’t let my name fool you.

I have many years of archiving experience dating back to EmailXtender. Fortunately EMC had the wherewithal to invest in a next generation architecture that resulted in EMC SourceOne, whereas the rest of the competitors are still stuck on first generation.

And if my own experiences weren’t enough, I also married Mr. Archive last year. This union in fact sets the foundation for future discussions we’ll have about the intersection of backup and archiving.

Notice I said “intersection.”

I continue to champion that a backup is NOT an archive. But the underlying architecture that EMC is developing allows for the consolidation of both backup and archive, positioning us uniquely in the market.

But that’s a point for a future conversation.

Let’s talk about archiving.

Given my history, I think EMC so far has missed the opportunity to include archiving as a key enabler to the IT transformation discussion.

Don’t get me wrong – we need to transform our IT Infrastructure from a static, physical model to one that is dynamic, agile and infinitely scalable. But the question in my mind is whether you are transforming your infrastructure to store content that is outdated, no longer of value, or potentially damaging to your organization.

The way I see it, we need to transform information management as part of IT transformation. Archiving is an enabler to manage the volume of data that is collecting in your production environments – allowing you to systematically manage what you are storing, where and for how long.

You will find that my blogs are short and sweet. Next week I’ll give you my views on the three benefits of archiving. LB