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Clear Choice Test

E-mail archiving

Introduction|Slideshow|How we did it|Test archive

Symantec's Enterprise Vault wins top spot in 10-vendor test

Key factors when evaluating e-mail archiving tools are e-discovery and policy enforcement

By Logan Harbaugh, Network World
December 08, 2008 12:09 AM ET

Network World - E-mail archiving systems can serve a variety of purposes. At the most basic level, they free end users and messaging administrators from that onerous task of keeping individual in-boxes as trim as possible by automatically archiving messages to less-expensive storage.

How we tested these e-mail archiving systems
Performance of these systems
Archive of Network World tests

In addition, these systems facilitate e-discovery processes in which IT staff, auditors and lawyers use specialized search functions to find messages relating to a specific topic.

The software can also be used as a policy enforcement tool that can be configured to look out for messages that defy corporate rules and forward those messages to the appropriate person for review.

Finally, compliance and retention functions help IT organizations keep messages on hand to comply with corporate or legislative requirements.

In this Clear Choice Test of 10 vendors, we found that many are attempting to hit on all use cases defined above – to varying degrees of success -- while others are homing in on one or two main areas.

We invited almost two dozen vendors to participate in this test and a dozen took up the challenge, 10 of which we could compare side-by-side. Those include: Atempo's Digital Archive for Messaging (ADAM), C2C Systems' Archive One, GFI's MailArchiver, Intradyn's ComplianceVault, MessageSolution's Enterprise Email Archive, Mimosa Systems' NearPoint, Sunbelt Software's Exchange Archiver, Symantec's Enterprise Vault, Tangent's DataCove and Waterford Technologies' MailMeter.

We also tested a product from ProofPoint, but because they work differently from other 10 presented here, we've opted to cover those products in a separate story.

The overall top performer was Symantec's Enterprise Vault, with Mimosa Systems NearPoint and C2C's ArchiveOne suite close behind. All three offer a complete array of features, with enterprise-class functionality in management, granularity of permissions and scalability.

We've structured our findings in the context of the four main e-mail archiving purposes. For a full product-by-product see the drop-down menu above.

Mailbox management

When used for mailbox management, e-mail archiving software mainly deals with moving messages and their attachments off the main server to the archive server, reducing space used on the central mail server.

The processes of mailbox management can be divided into two areas – backing up messages so they can be replaced if deleted by accident or lost, and moving the body of the message or any attachment to another server, leaving only a 'stub' on the Exchange server as a place holder.

Backing up an Exchange server via an e-mail archiving product is certainly not a substitute for regular backup process. For one thing, there is the issue of network performance. As noted in our story on performance, we saw a typical backup rate of 30,000 messages per hour. Extrapolating from that rate, a server with 5 million messages would then take over six days to either completely back up or restore via the message-by-message method used by most products tested.

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