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Lab Tested: Automated E-mail Archivers


The technology is too young, and the number of functions that must be pulled together--including records management, content analysis, indexing, search and retrieval, policy engines, tamperproof storage, security, access controls and a tight integration with the mail store--are too numerous for any vendor to do all of them perfectly. But you can help set reasonable expectations going into the project.

For our tests, we required real-time, active e-mail archiving products that support both Exchange and Domino, let enterprises manage e-mail storage, aid compliance with retention requirements in the United States, and allow for both discovery and retrieval of messages. The archives must provide access mechanisms for both compliance officers and users, and must support retention policies as well as automatic content analysis, including attachment content. The ability to age messages out of the archive based on retention policies is vital. The product's message-classification scheme must allow metadata for each record, but the products also must be capable of classifying messages without metadata. Finally, we asked for as-tested list pricing for both 200 and 1,000 seats, and for maintenance costs as a percentage of the purchase price.


Vendors at a glance
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Before you perform pilot testing, work with your constituents to define industry-appropriate e-mail retention policies. After all, the ability to implement your policies is the most critical component of the evaluation. If the product you're evaluating is incompatible with a particular policy--say, one requiring you to automatically purge all e-mail from the archive, mail store and any end-user storage after three years, except for messages that might be subject to court-ordered discovery--look elsewhere, no matter how whiz-bang the user interface. For guidance on establishing a policy, see "The Trouble With E-Mail," page 40.

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