Shutting Down an Obsolete Email Archive, Defensibly
One of the fears many IT professionals have is getting the dreaded phone call from a vendor saying that the application your organization has been relying on for years has reached its EOL or end-of-life. This obnoxious term means that the vendor will no longer be conducting bug fixes, adding any new functionality, or supporting it…in any way. An even more unpleasant situation is a company calling to say, “We just purchased XYZ Inc. and the application you’ve been relying on for years will be discontinued and support will cease in 6 months. Oh by the way, we can upgrade you to our new, completely incompatible replacement application for the low, low price of 3 times the purchase price of the old application.”
What do you mean it’s EOL?
Many IT professionals are facing this exact situation with several email archiving solutions that have been purchased by larger competitors over the last several years. The question they are asking themselves is whether they purchase the new (more expensive) email archive and pay an additional large professional services bill to move all that old email into it, or just shut it down, walk away from it and stop archiving email altogether?
In the previous three blogs we have discussed the dangers of abandoning an email archive, mainly because of eDiscovery and regulatory concerns, so abandoning your email archive is not an acceptable solution. In addition, many companies have decided that being forced to purchase another email archive and moving everything over is not necessarily the best solution either.
In fact, many organizations are adopting Microsoft’s cloud computing solution, Office365, and are blindly moving their existing archived email up to the cloud. Now, don’t get me wrong, Office365 is a great product (I use it myself) but moving a large email archive, in mass, is not a cost effective strategy.
Getting out of a bad situation
So how do you migrate a large amount of information from an email archive that you want to shut down in a controlled, defensible manner?
First decide ahead of time what email needs to be kept for archiving purposes and what can be disposed of. Questions you should ask are:
- Does your organization have regulatory retention requirements and what are they?
- Does your organization have a current information retention schedule?
- Does your legal department know of anticipated litigation or is the company currently involved in litigation and do you potentially have relevant information in the archive?
- Is there information in the old email archive that should be kept for business purposes?
A well-known attorney once said, “Your company attorneys are your ‘get out of jail free’ card. If later in the litigation process a Judge asks you why you did what you did, being able to respond that you checked with your corporate attorney and he/she said it was ok… will keep you out of jail."
Create a detailed list of answers to the above questions and get your legal department to sign off on it.
Second, contact email archive migration vendors that have the technical expertise, background and references to migrate the entire email archive, not just the email messages but attachments, contacts, appointments and public folder content in a defensible manner. This means that associated metadata is not changed during the migration process. This is important because legally speaking, if the metadata is changed during migration and some of the data should have been protected under a litigation hold, even if the change is inadvertent, could be seen as willful destruction of evidence.
For those of you that have the old Mimosa Systems NearPoint email archive, Archive360’s Archive 2-Anywhere Mimosa NearPoint Edition is a high performance software application which extracts all the data out of Mimosa NearPoint and puts it directly into Microsoft Exchange, Office365, or into its original native Exchange .MSG format, PST Containers or EML. In most cases we suggest migration out of the archive and into a format that can be easily searched later.
Migrate, filter, repeat
After all the archive data has been migrated into a holding repository, the email archive can be decommissioned, meaning erasing the archive and repurposing the servers. This step is necessary to ensure that some overzealous attorney in the future doesn’t try to force you to restart and search the old archive for eDiscovery.
The next step is to filter archive data, using keyword or concept based search engines, for content that should be secured on a litigation hold and any content that should be retained for regulatory retention requirements.
The remaining content from the email archive can then be filtered and categorized to determine what should be kept for business reasons and moved to the proper repository and what should be defensibly deleted immediately.
At this point, you should be free and clear – of any more problems (and costs) around your obsolete email archive.