Agility Is Key as Email Archiving Evolves at JP Morgan

The company swapped out one system because it did not meet its requirements, saw its vendor acquired twice, and now is getting ready to move its archiving system from one

January 24, 2009

4 Min Read
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Financial services and banking giant JP Morgan has had to be agile in dealing with its email archiving system. The company swapped out one system because it did not meet its requirements, saw its vendor acquired twice, and now is getting ready to move its archiving system from one email system to a new one. Such experiences can be common in the rapidly emerging but turbulent email archiving market.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. was founded in 1799 and is one of the nation's oldest financial services firms. The company has more than 200,000 employees, offices in about 100 counties, and $2.3 trillion in assets.

Because of the nature of its business, the corporation has been at the forefront of the email archiving. "Industry regulations require that we be able to monitor electronic communication among our regulated users, such as stockbrokers and private bankers, and their clients," says Lance Livingston, lead engineer at JP Morgan. The company has to be sure that brokers and traders are providing consistent information about stocks to customers or else it can be censured by regulators.

If the company did not closely monitor communications, it could face fines of as much as $10 million. Consequently, the financial services entity has been able to justify the $100,000 annual maintenance tag that comes with its email archiving system.

At the turn of the millennium, the corporation was working with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) Commonstore email archiving product, but found it had limitations. There was inconsistency in the way the system archived data. "We found there we were missing large chunks of email, so we could not provide true 30-day validations of what correspondences took place," Livingston says.The financial services supplier searched for a replacement, but found only a couple of tools able to support its needs. JP Morgan has to monitor the information flow among 14,000 regulated users, and that number was too large for many products.

The company decided to purchase SRA Internationals Assentor for a couple of reasons. First, many other financial services firms were using it, so it came highly recommended. During a proof of concept, the product seemed attractive because it included a pre-review feature that offered the ability to stop messages before they were sent out. The system was also flexible enough to apply policies and rules to only a select group of users rather than all employees. So, JP Morgan installed the system.

In October 2002, SRA International sold Assentor to iLumin Software Services Inc. "Support was not as good as with iLumin as it was with SRA International," Livingston says. When problems arose, calls to technical support were not promptly returned and sometimes the information supplied was circumspect.

In October 2005, CA Inc. (Nasdaq: CA) purchased iLumin, folded the product into its compliance management line and changed the product name to CA Message Manager. CA stabilized the technical support issues and has a good help desk that helps JP Morgan troubleshoot any problems.

Currently, the product also does a good job of making sure that all messages are archived. The users generate about 140,000 messages a day, so the archive has been growing at rate of 1.4 TB per year, and the financial services company now has 16 TB of messages in its system. Message Manager also makes it relatively easy for users to collect correspondences if a problem arises.CA recently enhanced the product's central management functions. With the new release, version 12.5, JP Morgan administrators can now change any setting via a single user interface and an entry in one database. Previously, the company worked with eight servers, each with its own user interface and database.

One downside was the upgrade path. Because of its dynamic environment, JP Morgan cannot take the email archiving system offline for long. In the new version, CA upgraded from Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to the 2005 version of the product and recommended that Message Manager come down for 10 days. Instead JP Morgan did a modified upgrade and was offline for a weekend in early December 2008.

JP Morgan is now preparing for another change with its archiving system -- a move to Microsoft Exchange from IBM's Notes. Management's preference was the driving force behind the switch. The company's executive board wanted to take advantage of the functionality that Exchange offers.

The switch may benefit JP Morgan's IT staff. Because so many companies are standardizing on Exchange as their email system, archiving systems often develop a fuller set of features for it than for other email systems.

The move to Exchange is scheduled to be completed by the end of the second quarter. JP Morgan does not have any other major modifications planned for its email archiving system -- but that plan also could be subject to change.0

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