We endure daily information overload. About 80 percent of data you need today is unstructured and hard to locate. A huge chunk of this is email – as much as 50 percent of a business’s critical information is stored in email. And, as if they haven’t got enough to worry about, IT managers now have legal considerations to bear in mind when storing email data.

An increasing number of organisations are implementing email archives for liability reasons. Ensuring that all staff comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and with government legislation requiring the retention of certain emails for specified times is set to become a top priority. You may have taken steps to ensure that your company’s policies in respect of its legal obligations are suitably enforced. If not, you might need MailStore.

More than just backup
MailStore is a policy-driven message retention, management and restoration system. More importantly, it is compliant with the code of practice on the legal admissibility of electronic documents (British Standards Institution Code of Practice for Legal Admissibility and Evidential Weight of Information Stored Electronically) and so has been designed to manage and store emails to achieve maximum legal compliance. While it does back up your email data, it’s much more than a common or garden backup solution.

Email messages are classified and organised by MailStore according to policies defined by administrators. MailStore provides very granular control over which messages are archived and how long they are retained within the archive. It makes cryptographic integrity checks on all emails plus any attachments and encrypts the data before securely storing the message in the archive.

This process provides the basis of legal admissibility of messages in the archive. Emails are playing an increasing role in modern litigation and having to pull emails from normal backups for production as evidence in court (aka ‘discovery’) is not only an expensive business but very time-consuming too. MailStore not only speeds up this process but thanks to its encryption and full audit trail, guarantees that the evidence hasn’t been tampered with.

As well as offering a secure, auditable, searchable store for your email data, MailStore offers a number of other useful features as a by-product. It lets end-users access archived emails (and attachments) via a web interface and forward them to their Inbox. And because MailStore stores all incoming and outgoing email, your mail server is relieved of the need to store months of emails – emails older than, say, a week can be deleted from the server, but can still be recovered from the MailStore archive. This improves server performance, reduces backup times and reduces management costs. And if the mail server is down, old and recent emails can still be accessed on the MailStore server. Last but not least, by automatically managing archived data according to policies MailStore significantly reduces management overhead costs.

Call in the Enforcer
MailStore can be deployed in a number of ways to suit the needs of the organisation. All messages are siphoned from an Exchange Server 5.5 or 2000 journal mailbox that is accessed via the IMAP protocol by MailStore’s Archiver service. While MailStore’s reach has now been extended to PST files stored locally, as these files were effectively ‘in the wild’ prior to archiving, their legal admissibility is questionable. Scheduled deletion of messages is performed by another service, the ‘Enforcer’. These components could be installed on separate machines or located with the database and the GUI server on a single MailStore server. Typically though, MailStore will be installed alongside the corporate email server and accessed via the local Intranet. It can also be deployed over the Internet as a complete service offering from an ASP.

The archived messages are stored within a Microsoft SQL Server relational database. This is also used to provide the security and stores the system audit trail. All administration and end-user access is performed via a web browser interface to Java applications running on the GUI server. There is no client application to install on the end user workstations, simply a URL to locate the GUI server web page. The Management Console can be installed on remote machines and hence the Administrator can control MailStore from any web browser connected to the network.

New features found in MailStore 2.0 include support for Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM), enabling users to integrate Exchange e-mail archives into their overall storage management strategy, improved usability, better performance and a personal storage migration tool, called PST.

A 30-day evaluation version is available from @rchive-it.