Archiving with Lotus Notes? Consider native and ISV capabilities

Look for non-intrusive archiving software

Many Lotus Notes users are concerned with how to manage their employees' growing Notes mail files and the associated impact on storage, servers and database performance.

In addition to reducing the size of mail files, administrators - or someone from the organization's legal department - may also be concerned about the management of mail for regulatory reasons or the availability of mail in the event of litigation and an e-discovery request.

This article looks at the key requirements for archiving and how the functionality available in Lotus Notes and Domino can help address those needs.

Optimize storage requirements and reduce the backup window

Some administrators may already be trying to control performance costs by imposing quotas by limiting the size of mail files for users and automatically deleting older mail - anything older than 90 days, for instance. If you've already migrated to Notes 8, you may be in a position to use the enhanced document compression introduced in Version 8.0.1, which, according to IBM, delivered 35 percent in storage savings during initial lab tests.

You may already be using native Notes archiving by moving older mail messages off the Notes mail servers to a database copy, either on a central server or on the user's local computer, manually or automatically. While this provides the advantages of being an out-of-the-box solution supported by IBM and, for the most part, managed by individual users, this approach does have drawbacks and limitations.

- While messages may no longer be on the Notes server, you will need additional infrastructure like servers, databases, and storage.

- Messages "archived" in this way cannot be managed or searched centrally.

- As messages age, users tend to access them less frequently. This approach has no concept of retention management or the ability to migrate older messages to cheaper forms of storage.

While this approach may provide some relief for the Domino mail server, it does not address the main issue of how to manage growing volumes of e-mail.

Data Retention (including regulatory compliance)

There are numerous regulations that require e-mail to be retained. Your organization may be subject to legislation that requires e-mail to be retained for specific periods and readily available in the event of an audit. While Lotus Notes is adding functionality such as document compression that can reduce operational overhead, it does not yet address functionality required to support regulatory archiving and e-mail retention requirements.

Litigation Support and e-Discovery

Litigation usually means your legal team requests e-mail for specific employees for certain date ranges. Producing those e-mails means going to backup tapes which may have become a de facto archive. It's time consuming and disruptive for your team and of sufficient concern to your legal department that they start asking you to evaluate better options. Again, Lotus Notes does not offer the centralized search and data preservation functionality required to support your company's e-discovery needs.

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David Thompson

Techworld Australia
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