Pack-Rats by Law: A Message Archiving Primer - Page 2

 By Paul Rubens
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Then there is the issue of client-side software. Some of the archiving systems on the market need no client software at all, while others may offer enhanced functionality and better user message retrieval if a plug-in for Outlook or other desktop software is installed. In a large company, especially one with users which are widely geographically dispersed, client-side software may be more trouble than it is worth to install, maintain and support. Keeping it simple is often the best policy.

Another thing to keep an eye on is bandwidth - specifically, the amount of extra bandwidth an archiving system is likely to consume. That's because with an archiving system in place, messages make a double journey: Not only do they go to their recipients, but a copy is also sent to the archive. This may be done in a batch overnight, or may happen in real time. However it's done, if you run your messaging server and archive system in-house, message traffic on your LAN will double. This is probably not a huge problem for most companies, as e-mail will usually only take up a small proportion of LAN traffic, but problems could occur at the height of virus outbreaks - when vast amounts of unwanted e-mail and attachments may overload a network - or if you employ packet shaping on your network to ensure the quality of service of bandwidth-intensive applications like video conferencing and make only a small proportion of your bandwidth available for messaging.

Of course you may decide to use an ASP that offers an archiving service, in which case e-mails destined for storage will be passing over an external link to the service provider. Depending on your network topology this may mean that the impact on your LAN is negligible. The usual precautions should be taken before signing up to an ASP service - be sure that the company and your message archive is secure.

The actual implementation of most archiving systems is fairly straightforward. A dedicated server needs to be set up and storage has to be connected, but this shouldn't take more than a day or so. The hardest part, which may require outside consultancy as well as close co-operation with compliance officers within your organization, is setting up the archiving policies to ensure that the right messages are stored for the right amount of time - in accordance with regulatory requirements. Equally important is keeping storage costs to a minimum, by avoiding storing messages from less business critical departments for unnecessary lengths of time.

And once you have got your messaging archiving system up and running and configured to meet the stringent requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley and any other regulatory authorities, don't forget to treat yourself to that iPod mini.

This article was originally published on May 24, 2004
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