Archive Today But Defer Retention Policy?

Most organizations are unclear about the retention policies they should adopt. That slows the deployment of archiving technology.

It usually makes sense to go ahead with archiving in advance of having decided one's retention policy; that is, start by archiving everything, for an indeterminate period. You still get many of the advantages of archiving, such as better user mailbox performance, better e-discovery, and reduced backup times. As you go along, you can reduce the scope of archiving (e.g., don't include spam) and define retention policies.

... David Ferris

One Comment

  1. Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    Excellent post, David. There is a great expression that you shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of good. I’ve seen so many clients over the years wait for months and years to get a retention policy right before archiving. All the while, they are stuck with exploding email databases, lengthening backups and unnecessary restores for legal purposes. Archive first is a great strategy to avoid this. Admittedly I’m biased!

  2. Posted November 4, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    Totally agree as we shared in the top Ten Best Practices..
    Setting zero for archived content to protect it from end user destruction is the key interim step to get the value of the archive without the commitment..
    looking forward to todays 2010 discussion.
    thanks David.. Frank Mitchell

  3. Jeff Pitzen
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

    Too True!

    We have over 1.3 billion messages in our Archive (Single Oracle RAC DB). The good thing is we planned for this; however, we can’t recognize saves from single-instancing until we are able to purge messages. Getting a sign-off to use mailbox management and removing the messages from the mailservers is key to successfully managing large messaging environments.

    We’re ready to turn on retention management, just waiting for legal and records management to come to an agreement… and that, my friends, is 8 months over-due!


  4. Posted November 5, 2009 at 5:56 AM | Permalink


    Totally agree as have the others. Getting data into the archive far outweighs the issues of retention policy setting delays. The only caveat that we have seen haunt customers is to make sure to not archive using a WORM storage platform and set retention to forever.

    Has caused some problems for our customers in the past, but good for us as we’ve been able to assist them migrating their content. But make sure to not set it to forever on WORM!!


  5. Posted November 5, 2009 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Can’t say I disagree as I fully buy into the idea Nick shared – achieve some good while working toward great.

    That being said, and from the perspective of a Records & Info Mgmt professional, if you’re going to go this route, please be VERY careful in what archiving product you use/buy. As described above, the issue created using WORM is a costly mistake. Also be sure whatever you buy will allow you to cost effectively apply retention once you have your policy set.

    By archiving, indiscriminantly, you are essentially creating a digital haystack that WILL have to be culled when you set your retention periods and implement your policy. Keep in mind that your retention periods will be applicable to CONTENT, not CONTAINER. So, simply archiving with superficial metadata may not be sufficient to aid your retention implementation. You will likely not have the ability to blow away email based primarly on date – it just doesn’t work that way.

    I just want to be sure folks think before they archive to be sure they don’t find themselves in a strategic and operational conundrum once Legal and RM finally come to agreement on your policy.

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