As of December 2006 the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) rules have been amended to require institutions to archive their email and other electronic data so they can present present it as evidence in civil litigation. An entire industry has sprouted up to help companies comply with what is commonly termed eDiscovery law. The Arcmail Defender appliance is probably one of the easiest all around central email archiving solutions I’ve implemented so far, but it also has a couple of limitations.First, the Arcmail Defender utilizes journaling in Microsoft Exchange environments so you’ll have to either archive all email or nothing at all. I mean it would be nice to just be able to archive certain exchange information stores’ to save some space, but with journaling you’re limited to grabbing a copy of all messages regardless of their destination.
Secondly the retention policy applies globally and cannot be changed for individual mailboxes or organizational groups. While seemingly insignificant, these two flaws are significant hurdles especially for larger organization with many departments residing on a single exchange server. Simply turning on journaling (admittedly really more of a problem with Microsoft Exchange Server) can pose a significant performance challenge for administrators because of the sheer increase of transactions it causes on a large message store. In essence journaling generates a copy of each incoming and outgoing email and sends it to a journaling contact user account via SMTP (presumably your Defender or other archiving appliance).
The lack of available user or group level journaling rules in Exchange 2003 server means that tons of useless mail will be archived especially from maintenance and administrative email accounts that receive daily status reports & updates your admins never check anyways (you know you’ve got em).
The second problem is one with the Defender appliance itself. After Sarbanes Oxley, many corporate legal departments have defined specific data & email retention policies in an effort to avoid the next Enron/Worldcom type of scandal. Finance Departments for instance may have a 10 year retention policy while other departments might need to retain data for a much shorter time. The problem with the Arcmail Defender is that retention can only be set globally per appliance. This means all email on the appliance is retained based on a single setting, regardless of group or department . Where I’m from, longer retention time equals more money so having to choose the greatest common denominator here will hurt your IT budget.
Long story short…IMHO if you’re archiving email on a central appliance instead of letting your users offload exchange mail to a PST file in a home directory (fine and dandy until the moment you get sued), you’re already far ahead of the game and can probably afford the sledgehammer solution that is Arcmail.