Migrating Email and Archives to the Cloud

There are many factors to consider when moving email and email archives to the cloud. Three important ones are:

  • Do you presently have on-premise email archiving? If so, then you must consider how to move the email archiving storage to the cloud. The cost of this move can be considerable, in terms of load fees, disrupted user time, and support staff time.
  • Do you plan to archive email in the cloud? If so, what archiving capabilities are offered by your cloud email provider? Will they meet your needs for e-discovery and mailbox management? What is the additional cost?
  • Do you plan to postpone cloud email for two to three years, but begin email archiving now? If so, then consider how you will move potentially terabytes of email archives to the cloud later. You may wish to begin cloud archiving now to lessen the future impact.

They key factor to remember is the size of email archive storage. Even a couple years of email can be terabytes of storage. Moving terabytes of email storage from on-premise to the cloud is a formidable and costly task. Keep this important issue in mind as you consider the benefits of cloud email.

... Bob Spurzem

One Comment

  1. Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:11 AM | Permalink


    Our business is 100% focussed on creating tools to migrate email archives – to ‘new’ Archives, to File Storage, to Exchange, to The Cloud. Our partners incorporate our product into their services offerings to offer fully-managed and audited migrations. After 4 years in the business we have realised that this is a services, _not_ a products, ‘gig’. Our experience is that most (and if regulated, almost all) customers need someone to take responsibility for a one-off process that requires considerable specialist expertise. Yes, the cost of these moves can be considerable however the potential financial risks of not handling the data correcly can far over-shadow those costs.

    Migrating to hosted archiving services can be a special case – mostly because few vendors expose interfaces that permit additional meta-data to be ingested alongside the original messages. One of the vendors that does is Mimecast who have specified a data ingestion specification including ‘metafiles’ for this data. Our product supports migration to Mimecast with these features in its current release.

    The on-premise vendors sometimes do enable such capability in their APIs (Symantec, EMC and Autonomy deserve mention here), but there is also in these cases a possible option to provide direct data updates to their databases which are local.

    Relevant to your points about the size of archive storage, our customers’ systems have shown a variation of between 5 and 20 Million emails per compressed terabyte – but a usual rule of thumb is around 12M – it varies by vendor and by average size of email, naturally.

    Our advice to customers is
    1) Realise that the cloud has cons as well as pros – explore them carefully.
    2) Never go to the cloud without an ‘exit SLA’ that defines how you will get your data out, with what additional meta-data (e.g. retentions, hold flags, bccs, expanded distribution lists, etc.), and at what cost.
    3) If you want to take responsibility for operating an on-premise archive, consider systems that can manage their storage encrypted in the cloud – potentially removing some of the cost issues but keeping control in-house.
    4) If you want move an existing archive then speak to a services company with an archive migration practice. There are some links on our website 🙂
    5) If future litigation or discovery could be an issue – make sure that you have a record of exactly what’s been done with each of those x million messages, it could save some costly embarassment later!

  2. Posted August 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

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  3. Posted October 1, 2010 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    Even if it can be costly to import your email from an on-premise archiving system to a hosted (cloud-based) one, the benefits are undeniable from a storage management, compliance and eDiscovery standpoint.

    Here are some of the benefits that a Cloud-based Email Archiving system can bring to any organization:

    1- Eliminate IT infrastructure spending. Moving to a cloud-based archiving service allows an organization to free itself from the hassles of an on-premise system. You don’t have to pay anymore for hardware and infrastructure. You don’t need to pay for updating software, increasing computing power and bandwidth, or for equipment replacements in case of a failure. A SaaS archiving service, can offer a pricing plan on per-user, per-month basis which allows organizations to easily forecast its IT costs.

    2- No more expensive downtime. With the cloud, your archived data is available 24/7 and anywhere in the world as long as you have a access to the Internet. If you are running on an on-premise system, server downtime could take hours to get back up to full speed which could cost an organization thousands, sometimes millions of dollars if mailboxes were to be unavailable for a business day. Everybody knows how companies don’t just rely on email, they survive by it. Think of those times when your email servers have gone down for a few hours, how helpless you felt. Now imagine not having to worry about that again. You don’t have to imagine with a cloud-hosted service.

    3- Pay-as-you-go! A cloud-based archiving service allows an organization to reach unmatched level of scalability. With payments made on a per-user basis, you can easily budget IT expenses (as long as you can predict the number of users). There are no unexpected costs associated with a hosted email service. Moreover, if you need more storage space, you just need to say the word – you don’t need to buy new hardware.

    4- Costs stay flat as the performance needs increases. Suppose your company is experiencing its busiest day of the year, an on-premise system could experience lag time due to limited bandwidth, or you could end up having to make a capital expenditure to increase computing power – only to find that equipment lying dormant until it is needed again. With a hosted solution, unlimited scalability allows you to instantly increase or decrease your computing power, for no extra cost, so you will still be able to seamlessly operate your email system, even on your busiest of days.

    5- Reduce your IT expenditures. So far, when talking about an on-premise archiving system we have only addressed the high upfront costs for software and hardware, but you also have to take into account the labor costs. IT staff will have to set up the system, install everything and be properly trained to be able to operate and maintain the system as efficiently as possible. This time spent setting up an on-premise system, training IT staff, and maintaining the servers is time that doesn’t have to be spent. A hosted email archive allows you to free your IT department from installation headaches and training; instead, your companies IT staff can focus on other issues that can actually add value to your business. Some hosted solutions can be deployed in minutes and have a very user friendly UI that requires little-to-no training.

    6- Improve storage management. A hosted archiving solution can offer organizations the opportunity to dramatically improve their data storage management. A comprehensive archiving tool will ensure regulatory compliance, and allow an organization to set up and maintain a compliant email retention policy that allows your emails, IM, SMS, Social Media and other business communications to be safely stored, readily available, and easily retrievable (with solutions that offer advanced searching features and indexing… like Sonian :). In-house tools too often do not integrated well and can quickly become expensive to upgrade to make sure they are still up-to-date.

    7- No more hours on the phone spent with the Help desk. No more painful and endless phone calls with the help desk to retrieve emails that are either lost, deleted or in quarantine where the end-user doesn’t have access. A hosted/SaaS archiving solution can allow the end-user to have an unlimited, permanent access to his/her personal archive and access to other archived files depending on his/her level of authorization. Administrators can put legal holds on public folders so that, in case of an litigation or e discovery request, the archived emails cannot be modified, deleted or altered by unauthorized users. Such a solution also brings added-value features such as reporting & analytics tools, auditing tools, comments, flagging, tracking an email’s history… and other features that ensure great visibility into the archived content. This accessibility will free up time (and time is money) spent mulling over an antiquated archive – or worse yet, on the phone with a help desk, mulling over an antiquated archive.

    If you wish to learn more about SaaS Email Archiving and Cloud computing feel free to have a look to the following blogs:

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