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September 24, 2009

Federal, State Regs Push Email Server Archiving Adoption

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor


Thanks to the increased reliance on email for communications, the adoption of email archiving services is growing. Largely driven by the sheer volume of email messages, businesses are expected to spend $860 million on email archiving software and services through 2009, according to research firm IDC (News - Alert) of Framingham, Mass.
 
Yet many business operators are unaware that they need to comply with a number of state and federal regulations when it comes to archiving those messages. For example, the Federal Regulations on Civil Procedures, or FRCP, which took effect in December 2006, require businesses involved in federal court cases to identify, preserve and collect electronically stored information.
 
More stringent controls and stronger penalties are forcing organizations to take a harder look at regulatory compliance issues. For instance, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or so-called “SOX” impacts industries and imposes strict penalties on firms that delete or alter documents with the defrauding of third parties.
 
U.S. businesses, particularly those in the financial and healthcare industries, are mandated by law to archive electronic communication. For example in the financial world, Securities and Exchange Commission and National Association of Securities Dealers mandate that organizations store email pertaining to trading activity for at least six years.
 
Similarly, in healthcare, organizations and doctors have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act, or “HIPPA” law, which oversees paper or electronic records that contain personal information and detail about a person’s medical history.
 
While the need is apparent for email compliance, challenges remain.
 
One obstacle is that many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a dedicated legal department. And so the responsibility to search for and retrieve the necessary data often falls on the firm’s IT staff. What’s more, another prohibiting factor for some firms is the cost to implement an email archiving system.
 
According to Osterman Research, more than one-fourth of organizations have not yet established an email retention policy, despite the growing number of statutory requirements and legal obligations to preserve business records, including those stored in email. And among the nearly three-quarters of organizations that have established such a policy, only two-thirds said that their users are fully aware of the policy.
 
But officials from one Lexington, Mass.-based software company said their cost effective solutions can help enterprises meet their goals.
 
Ipswitch Inc. offers installed and hosted email archiving solutions. The firm’s installed solution, MailArchiva Enterprise Edition, lives on a server that the organization can access. The technology archives all incoming, outgoing and internal email with easy retrieval and e-Discovery via an administrative interface.
 
Meanwhile, Ipswitch’s (News - Alert) hosted solution, Sonian Hosted Email Archiving, uses the Amazon cloud to archive all incoming, outgoing and internal email. SHEA lets an administrator or approved third-party search and retrieve email from a highly intuitive control panel.
 
The fully featured solutions provide support for both compliance archiving, as well as storage resource management, company officials said.
 
“Organizations of all sizes are finding that the need to securely archive and rapidly produce email is not just a requirement for the Financial Services Industry anymore,” Brad Senter, marketing manager of the messaging division for Ipswitch, told TMCnet in an interview. “New state and federal rules mandating proper email archiving practices are forcing companies of all verticals to evaluate and implement email archiving technology.”
 
Stories are plentiful about companies, schools, and municipalities that have been subject to litigation simply because they had no archiving and e-Discovery solutions in place, Senter said.
 
“Many of these institutions are operating with limited financial and human resources required to manage such a project,” he said.
 
For example, Secretary of State William F. Galvin's office ordered the city of Boston to secure City Hall computers and hire an independent computer forensics expert to retrieve emails that were improperly deleted by the mayor’s top policy aide. According to the Boston Globe, the aide, Michael J. Kineavy, reportedly violated the state public records law by deleting email so copies wouldn’t be preserved by the city servers. The public records law requires municipal employees to save electronic correspondence for at least two years. Penalties include fines of up to $500 or prison sentences of up to one year, the report said.
 
Legal implications aside, implementing an archival system lets businesses better manage large volumes of existing email and file attachments. Moreover, archiving email is not only the best practice for data storage and retrieval but it also frees up space on email servers and eliminates the need to delete old messages, saving employees’ time, Senter said.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney




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