Regulation delivers message for e-mail archiving

Automating email archiving makes life a lot simpler for this IT department

With its early embrace of Linux and its highly reliable online banking site, KeyBank is among the most efficient, cutting-edge banks in the U.S. when it comes to IT -- except in one area, until recently.

When Al Coppolo was asked by lawyers at the KeyCorp operating unit to produce old e-mails for litigation or (U.S.) regulatory compliance reasons, he would have as many as four members of his IT team trudge to an offsite storage facility to retrieve tapes, then mount them on servers and painstakingly search for the requested messages.

"It was a completely manual environment," said Coppolo, who is executive vice president and director of infrastructure at Cleveland-based KeyBank. "Sometimes we would have to look through multiple copies of the same e-mail on multiple tapes if there were multiple replies."

The process was so laborious and time-consuming that usually his team just barely met a 30-day internal deadline for producing e-mails. And, Coppolo noted, the number of legal requests was only growing. Moreover, new federal e-discovery rules went into effect in December that spelled out requirements for submitting electronic documents -- including e-mail and instant messaging logs -- as evidence in civil court cases.

There are several technology alternatives available to companies looking for help. KeyBank opted for a full-blown archiving and content management system to support its 300TB e-mail archive.

The bank looked at several records management products, including one developed by iLumin Software Services, which now is owned by CA. But KeyBank settled on AXS-One's namesake software, which it bought from Sun Microsystems as part of a compliance and content management product bundle.

AXS-One can manage both e-mail and IM, and it captures a copy of each message that is sent or received. To give users one-click access to old messages, it creates message "stubs" in their e-mail directories, according to AXS-One.

Coppolo said the tools are working well enough that he hopes to eventually train KeyBank's legal team to use AXS-One, in order to free up his IT staffers for other tasks.

The increased need for companies to be able to produce electronic evidence is "a pretty serious issue," said Michael Osterman, an analyst at Osterman Research.

And many companies don't appear to be ready to comply with the new e-discovery rules. For example, in a survey conducted by Computerworld last year, 32 percent of the 170 IT managers and staffers who responded said their companies weren't at all prepared to meet the new requirements. Only 5 percent said their companies were completely prepared.

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