As I write this blog on the eve of a milestone birthday, I find myself reflecting on my career and the various market, regulatory and technology changes that I have witnessed over the past 25 years. I’ve spent most of this time in the information governance, compliance, and e-discovery space—also known by the umbrella term of “archiving.”
When I started working with compliance and archiving products in 2005, I mostly worked with the infrastructure team, specifically the storage and messaging teams. There were two primary use cases for archiving in the early days:
- Storage savings and consolidation: By archiving data from primary storage, you could reduce your storage footprint by “stubbing” email or files. This activity also allowed you to replace the original file with a shortcut (or “stub”). The stub file would link to the original file in the archive and once a user accessed the stub, the original file would be presented. This also allowed storage administrators to move lesser-used data to a lower tier of storage. When prices started to fall for storage platforms, email systems moved away from “single instance storage (SIS)”. Many archiving solutions allowed you to achieve SIS once again, greatly reducing storage requirements.
- Server consolidation: Once data moved from primary storage to secondary storage, the mail servers could realize the benefits of running with much smaller data stores, allowing messaging architects and administrators to run fewer servers. Storage requirements also became predictable based on archive policies, allowing infrastructure planners the ability to avoid surprises in data usage and predictably map out future storage spend.
With these advantages, however, came a few disadvantages. Archive environment upgrades were often very labor-intensive and prone to error. A typical upgrade often involved a very methodical upgrade process that included updating database schema (if not database servers themselves), environment “master” servers, index servers, storage drivers and many other components. For some of the major revision upgrades, migration to new hardware and operating systems was also required, introducing even more headaches. Merging environments during a merger or acquisition introduced an entirely new set of issues that we won’t even get into in this post.
As someone who worked in the implementation space for many years, working with various legacy on-premises archive vendors, I have witnessed first-hand the processes and resources required to make an upgrade go smoothly. In addition to the efforts required for the upgrade, the fear of data corruption was always lurking. As you planned the upgrade process, you had to factor in a restore from physical disk as a “last-ditch effort” to get the environment back up if something went wrong, assuming you had an uncompromised, recent backup of the archived data and metadata from which to recover. This proved to be a very interesting discussion with customers who had hundreds of terabytes of data in their archives and relied solely on data replication.
The Benefits and Pitfalls of E-discovery and Supervision Tools
As communication and collaboration platforms migrated from email to other tools, legacy on-premises vendors were slow to adopt. Some introduced archive connectors for file sharing portals and chat, but those were typically released along with major releases of the archive product. A change in work habits quickly outpaced the release schedules of legacy archive vendors.
Compliance and legal teams learned they could take advantage of the data that lived in this archive. E-discovery and supervision tools were created to use the data in the environment to monitor and search data within the archive. While this new search capability was a big step forward, the lengthy search speeds simply did not meet the needs of modern organizations that needed to improve litigation readiness and address corporate and/or regulatory compliance requirements and audits promptly.
These e-discovery and supervision tools were also very cumbersome to use, so the infrastructure team was often tasked with performing e-discovery searches for the legal team, rather than offering any kind of self-service. In addition, the architecture supporting these tools introduced new levels of complexity and administrative overhead, as solutions were sometimes acquired or developed separately from the archive itself.
Why Legacy Archive Vendors Cannot Meet the Modern Organization’s Archiving Needs
Content capture and collection needs are changing to the point that legacy archive vendors simply cannot keep up. There is an explosion of data sources and new collaboration tools coming to the market every year. In the last 18 months, I have used three different corporate chat and collaboration tools. How do you stay compliant with change happening this quickly? Waiting for a new major software release to keep you in compliance simply won’t cut it.
Social engagement has also changed the way we work and introduced new requirements to stay compliant. Email, chat, and collaboration platforms are typically under your control, whether they are on-premises or in the cloud. How do you guarantee content capture and control over your company’s brand when it comes to infrastructures that are out of your control, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others? Modern, cloud-native archive and compliance tools will help you stay compliant in a rapidly changing world, without the headache of server management, upkeep, and a lengthy and risky upgrade process.
How Proofpoint Solves Legacy Archiving Solution Pain Points
Let’s look at some of the pain points of a legacy on-prem archive and discuss how Proofpoint Compliance solutions can help.
Legacy On-Premises Archive Pain Points
How Proofpoint Can Help
Lengthy and risky upgrades: On-premises archive solutions involve lengthy planning and upgrades are fraught with technical issues. A wide array of internal resources is often required for upgrades.
As a hosted solution, you never have to plan or perform another upgrade. All storage, backup, maintenance, recovery and more are handled by Proofpoint staff.
Collection and search: Legacy solutions rely on third-party connector platforms to collect data beyond email. Once data is collected, e-discovery and compliance search efforts are inconsistent, often resulting in differing results and search speeds in hours, days, and in some instances, weeks.
Proofpoint’s Content Capture framework includes over 25 targets, including Microsoft Exchange (on-premises and online), Teams, OneDrive, Slack, Yammer and many more. All data that is collected can be accessed by a single federated search with an SLA-backed 20-second result guarantee*, regardless of data size, the number of custodians, or search complexity.
Reliance on Infrastructure team: These solutions are not user-friendly. Often, members of the infrastructure team must perform collection and search for the legal team.
Proofpoint supports legal and compliance team tools that are easy to use and require no support from the infrastructure team. Our unified interface simplifies processes and grants access to advanced capabilities in the same interface when needed.
Limited use cases: Slow to respond to the technology and regulatory changes, often releasing new features on a slow schedule that often requires a new upgrade process.
Our solution adapts to technology changes and new information management regulations and policies. Proofpoint can add connectors as needed and utilize e-discovery and supervision solutions for new use cases, such as compliance risk (harassment, intellectual property loss, disgruntled employees), internal investigations and risk mitigation.
* As described in Proofpoint’s Archive Search Performance SLA.
To learn more about the benefits of migrating to the Proofpoint archiving solution, please register for our upcoming webinar here. You’ll learn more about the challenges of legacy on-premises archiving and will get guidance on how to ensure a smooth transition to a better solution.