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Analysis

E-mail archiving made simple
Bharat Mistry By: Bharat Mistry, Associate Analyst - BCM, Bloor Research
Published: 11th July 2007
Copyright Bloor Research © 2007
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Archiving emails is increasingly a requirement for all organisations irrespective of their size. Recent legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Freedom of Information Act and other industry-specific regulations, reach farther than ever to affect most organisations and make compliance a major issue affecting even smaller companies.

Performance is another issue. Email servers are not able to cope with today's increased volumes especially with attachments that get CC'd to multiple recipients who may then forward it others. As the email servers get bogged down by sheer volume, adding more email servers is expensive and not very effective. Lastly, there is the ability to search and retrieve business information that is stored in emails and attachments.

Whilst comprehensive and integrated archive solutions from vendors such as Symantec, EMC, MessageLabs, AXS-One, ZipLip, Mailstore and others cater for larger organisations, they are typically expensive for small and medium sized organisations that may require only a subset of the capabilities.

MailSafe, from UK based Techne-Comm Ltd, is a relatively new email archiving product aimed initially at small and medium sized organisations, but now covering all markets and sizes. Mailsafe is an extension to Microsoft Outlook that indexes and archives emails to a SQLServer database for project, group or department's access. The simplicity of the solution is in the fact that it adds a four button toolbar on Outlook and takes about one hour to install.

Mailsafe has been successful in the SME markets with companies that have around 1,000 mailboxes/users, although recently it has notched up large wins in NHS, education and local authorities with a much larger number of mailboxes.

MailSafe automatically archives all sent, received and internal emails to a central SQL Server database in their original format. With automatic archiving, no emails are lost or mislaid, thereby satisfying the most stringent legal requirements. By storing the emails on a more efficient SQL Server database, it reduces the need to have large mailbox quotas and large mail servers. To satisfy compliance regulations, all emails are compressed and encrypted and cannot be altered thereby guaranteeing authenticity.

The close integration with Outlook enables searching, finding and viewing of emails (including attachments) immediately from within Outlook.

A good feature of Mailsafe is that in addition to the default indexing on the common Outlook fields (from, to, cc, subject…) it enables up to 6 other index fields that can be user defined to provide a common filing structure. Techne-comm define this as "Cascading Indexing" which can be used across many departments within large organisations. It enables, for example, the first index field to be chosen as Finance Department, say, and the next 5 index fields relate to that department such as Customer Code, Contract Number, Invoice Number, Payment Schedule, Supplier Code. This overcomes the problems associated with emails being stored in local, personal folders by enabling sharing of emails amongst teams or groups of people. Mailsafe also allows multiple indexing of single emails by different groups or users although the email is only stored once. For example, the Legal department may store the same email according to their particular categorisation and Finance may index it differently based on their requirement.

By using security settings on Active Directory, users and groups can view all emails they are entitled to see from within Outlook. This also enables advanced searching by entering details in the indexed fields.

These capabilities are great for office based use, however remote working and access through web based email also needs to be part of any email archiving solution. Techne-Comm are planning to release their Outlook Web Access component later this year.

Mailsafe is currently a standalone solution, and it would benefit from further integration with other content management systems as part of a broader solution. Independent solution vendors would also find it useful to incorporate it into their solution and services offering.

There is also an increasing requirement to capture and archive other forms of communications such as instant messaging, voicemail, blog entries, Voice over IP, and mobile phone conversations for compliance reasons. Some of the larger vendors are beginning to offer solutions that address these requirements.

With a good set of basic features and a competitive pricing model, Techne-Comm appear to be successful in winning clients in the UK that do not require many of the integrated capabilities of other expensive systems.

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