E-mail storage solutions

Archiving e-mail properly is one of the most difficult chores for companies attempting to comply with new government regulations, largely because of the sheer volume of e-mail.

“Customers are asking, how do I search through petabytes of data?” said Chris Van Wagoner, director of product marketing at CommVault Systems Inc., a data management software developer. “Because they are retaining data longer, the aggregate amount of data is bigger than anything people have dealt with until today.”

And the amount of e-mail that companies must oversee is likely to grow. According to IDC predictions, the total number of e-mails sent daily worldwide will grow from 9.7 billion in 2000 to 35 billion in 2005.

Regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the SEC 17a-4 require enterprises to keep e-mails longer than they’ve had to before, for at least six and seven years respectively. Because of these regulations, customers are increasingly seeking solutions that make it easier to save, archive, index, and search through e-mails.

E-mail archiving software is evolving to help customers meet the new requirements.

A large number of vendors including IXOS Software AG, Persist Technologies Inc., Legato Systems (a division of EMC Corp.), and KVS have updated their existing e-mail archiving software platforms. KVS focuses on solutions for Microsoft Exchange, while IXOS offers solutions across business applications including Siebel, SAP, and Microsoft. Persist provides storage appliance software and Legato has joined the e-mail archiving game after years of providing block-data storage backup solutions.

CommVault Systems joined the fray last month when it updated its QiNetix software platform to include DataArchiver, new software designed to keep e-mail on Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange Server compliant with laws and regulations.

Van Wagoner explained that DataArchiver features full text indexing for the entire e-mail, from subject to body to attachments, and has a common database to store messages.

Other vendors, including Zantaz and Iron Mountain, are offering outsourced e-mail archiving solutions. “We help (customers) understand the technology requirements of the regulations,” said Craig Olson, vice-president of marketing at Zantaz.

A customer of Iron Mountain Inc.’s Digital Archiving Services, Charles Bennett, director of compliance at Hornor, Townsend & Kent, says the company of 1,300 financial brokers and dealers receives about 6,000 e-mails per day – a number the company can’t keep up with internally. That’s why he went with Iron Mountain.

“If we need a one-day turnaround, we can do it,” Bennett said. “The (Iron Mountain) service captures and rebuilds an index every night.”