It’s time to future-proof emailing archiving. Here’s why

By Garrett O’Hara, Principal Technical Consultant at Mimecast.

While traditional archives systems no longer consist of numerous dusty boxes of paper records (hopefully), most have fallen woefully out of date. Businesses must bring their archives up to speed with the cloud, analytics, and mobile technology if they want to avoid being relegated to the history books themselves.

For most organisations, the biggest – and most unwieldy – archives relate to email. Today, those archives need to handle both huge volumes and sizes of emails: more than 225 billion emails will be sent by the end of this year, with 98% of all businesses using email as a file sharing tool of choice.  At the same time, the increase in mobile working and more email being read on mobile devices than desktops, has meant a massive and increasing demand for email archive access while employees are on the go. A demand that isn’t served well by on-premises archives, or even many of the cloud archives due to limiting All of this means that email archive systems – typically on-premises, proprietary platforms built years or even decades ago – must lift a far heavier load than they were ever meant to.

Today’s most effective email archives combine all of today’s most valuable technologies: cloud hosting and disaster recovery, powerful analytics, mobile accessibility, and security-as-a-service. But are future-proof email archives really that important to warrant such a major transformation? The short answer is: yes. Although for most IT departments, archival remains a relatively low priority, they’ll need to change that view and quickly for the following reasons:

1. Employee productivity. The easier it is for employees to find information, the more productive they can be – particularly when trawling through huge volumes of unstructured email data. When businesses provide faster search, always-on access, and mobile connectivity for their email archives, employees spend far less time – and frustration – hunting down crucial records, and more time applying them to current opportunities or issues. And the faster employees can draw insights from the email history of their organisation, the more competitive they’ll be – leaving those with slower “memories” an ever-increasing distance behind.

2. Disaster recovery. Email archives not only contain a vast treasure trove of insights but also insure the business should primary email systems be compromised. Whether due to natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or human/technical failure – all increasingly common in today’s IT environments – businesses face significant losses if they lose email for even hours. Future-proofing email archives means ensuring that in the event of an outage, they can spin up and take over within seconds, providing instant recovery if the organisation’s email data becomes compromised in some way. It also means storing the archives separately – both in a physical and virtual sense – from the main email platform, something cloud-based archives are particularly suited to.

3. Regulatory compliance. All organisations, not just those in sectors like finance or legal, face heightened compliance requirements as well as penalties for their breach. That makes it more important than ever before to maintain a complete, reliable archive of email communications should a compliance issue arise. Almost equally critical is the organisation’s ability to find the right communications within that archive. Future-proofed email archives will need e-discovery functions which can speedily and accurately sift through terabytes of email threads – significantly strengthening how organisations respond to regulatory queries. This topic has never been more prevalent than with upcoming changes to both GDPR and Mandatory Data Breach notification that will impact Australian businesses and will require regulatory action.

4. Maintenance costs. The costs of maintaining traditional email archives go well beyond the financial. When IT departments skip the often onerous task of manually upgrading their archives, they may save on their OpEx budgets and time – but could cause their organisations to lose out on critical patches or fixes, creating unnecessary costs to any of the three areas talked about above. An email archive that takes lots of time or spending to maintain will inevitably fall into disrepair and lose its business value. To future-proof their archives, businesses should look to systems with automated maintenance: as-a-service platforms, for example, that centrally introduce the latest updates as soon as they become available. Such systems can also provide much higher and easier compatibility with other services, such as analytics or security, than the traditional in-house options.

As the default system of record for any organisation, email plays a vital role in recalling critical intelligence to meet opportunities and threats alike. And any damage to it can put the organisation at risk of critical memory loss. We already have the technologies, from cloud to mobile to search, to bring email archiving into the future. That makes the question for IT leaders one of priority – and which business can survive, let alone thrive, if it loses its email?


Garrett O’Hara, Principal Technical Consultant at Mimecast.

Mimecast is working to help make a perfect-world archive achievable for organisations and is hosting a State of the Industry virtual event on cloud archiving on October 12th, featuring Amanda Crew, from the HBO® hit show Silicon Valley and first-hand industry insight from Mimecast CEO Peter Bauer and CTO Neil Murray.

For more information and to register, here’s the link.


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