By: Admin on November 13th, 2015

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The ROI of Migrating Abandoned Email Archives

ROI of Migrating Abandoned Email Archives

In the last several blogs, we have discussed the issues related to abandoned email archives and dark data. Those issues centering on the risks and cost associated with pulling data out of an abandoned email archive because a regulatory agency has asked for specific data that could actually still be in your old email archive, or even worse, your company is being sued and the opposing counsel has demanded that the abandoned archive be fired up and searched for possibly relevant information.

Don’t just say NO!

In neither situation can you simply say “No”. In the case of the regulatory agency, you could be forced to spend large sums of money to hire “experts” to restart the archive (if you don’t currently have the ability to do it yourself) and search for the data.  In the case of an eDiscovery request, if the opposing counsel makes the case to the Judge that the abandoned email archive should be restarted and searched, you will be forced to throw gigantic amounts of money at experts to very quickly get it up and searched. If you can’t get it restarted, the Judge could issue an “adverse inference” to the Jury which in almost every case means you just lost the case, will end up paying whatever the plaintiffs are asking for, will have additional penalties applied, will pay the other sides legal fees and someone in your company could spend some time in jail.

So what is the return on investment (ROI) for proactively migrating email from your old abandoned email archive so you’re prepared when asked for information during a regulatory request or eDiscovery order? The obvious ROI is in not going to jail for destruction of evidence…but how do you measure the dollars saved by investing in the cost of a legally defensible migration process?

Cost savings does not equal ROI

To measure the cost savings from any investment, you simply estimate what it would cost to quickly respond to an information request by  hiring experts and consultants to fire up the abandoned email archive and search it for relevant information - keeping in mind that for regulatory requests and eDiscovery orders, the information searched for and pulled out must not be altered during the process…and yes, this also means the metadata cannot change, otherwise it can be considered “destruction of evidence”.

Generally speaking “experts can cost $200 to $400 per hour per expert for this type of rush service and if it needs to be done even faster for discovery purposes, $400 to $800 per hour per expert. So in reality, the estimated cost to do this in a reactionary way would cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The next step is to estimate the cost of the same process with the old email data already pulled out of the archive in a controlled and defensible manner so that the search and retrieval is straight forward…probably a day’s or twos work by one or two IT people already employed by your company. Conservatively this could reach between $2,000 and $5,000 at the most. So in this example, the cost savings calculation would be: the cost of the process before the investment minus the cost of the process after the investment. But keep in mind a cost savings is not an ROI calculation.

To calculate the ROI there’s one more step, which includes some division as well. The ROI formula is relatively simple:

ROI of Migrating Abandoned Archives

An ROI should be > 0%

Looking at the example, let’s say the cost of reacting to a regulatory or eDiscovery order to get specific data out of an abandoned email archive is $250,000. Let’s further say the cost after the migration has been done and you’re ready to respond to the order in a well thought out and defensible manner is $5,000. The cost savings would obviously be $245,000 ($250,000 - $5,000). To calculate the ROI, lets also say the cost of the solution (investment) for the “proactive” migration would be $35,000. Using the ROI formula above, the calculation would look like this:

ROI of Migrating Email Archives

A 600% return on investment is pretty great and not many CFO’s would turn it down, especially if the same investment lowered the company’s overall risk at the same time.

The questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. Do we have a decommissioned or abandoned email archive somewhere?
  2. Do we have regulatory retention requirements? (everyone does)
  3. Have we ever been discovered?

Migrate it, proactively

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should immediately talk to Archive360 to see if their Archive 2-Anywhere migration product suite, that enables rapid and secure movement of legacy email records between different archive services, is right for your project. It securely transports your legacy email archive data into a new target environment, ensuring it remains seamlessly accessible - both for end-users and for compliance and eDiscovery purposes. 

Proactively planning for the worst case situation ensures that you will never be faced with it.