Microsoft Exchange 2010 Archiving and the Barracuda Message Archiver

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Introduction

Microsoft Exchange 2010 introduces a set of functions designed to archive an organization’s emails. Unlike the Barracuda Message Archiver, Microsoft Exchange 2010 runs on a fundamentally different architecture, which does not fully satisfy legal and compliance requirements, nor does it optimize the email infrastructure. This whitepaper will discuss the efficiency of the new features in Microsoft Exchange 2010 and conduct a relative comparison to Barracuda Message Archiver.

Microsoft Exchange 2010 Archiving

To enable archiving in Microsoft Exchange 2010, administrators must create a separate mailbox to move and store copies of email. Retention policies define the lifetime of the messages, as well as enable users to search through its contents.

Microsoft Exchange 2010 Archiving Features

Archiving Feature:
Personal archives provide users with an alternate storage location in which to store historical messaging data. Administrators can also upload PST content into an archive store.

Retention Tags / Policies:
Time-based retention policies can be defined for message folders and individual emails.

E-Discovery Search:
Microsoft Exchange 2010 allows searching across both the primary mailbox and the personal archive.

Recipients Must Acknowledge the Receipt of an Invoice, its Conversion, and Any Additional Processing:
The Barracuda Message Archiver captures all emails and attachments. Any email acknowledgements and communication will be captured by the appliance.

Gaps in Microsoft Exchange 2010 Archiving

While the Microsoft Exchange 2010 functionality provides surface-level archiving capabilities, it fails to comprehensively meet the requirements of most organizations. Notable gaps arise when inspecting its ability to meet storage management and regulatory compliance needs.

Storage and Capacity Management Limitations

While the Microsoft Exchange 2010 archiving capability sets aside a separate archiving store, the messages are still managed by the Microsoft Exchange server. In some deployments, emails potentially reside on the same database where primary emails are stored. Because Microsoft Exchange will manage email and archiving processing, the performance of Microsoft Exchange will continue to degrade significantly and backing it up will continue to require protracted periods of time.

If the archive is stored on the same database or server, the database will be expected to grow substantially due to the messages that are now archived. Notably, the PSTs that are now uploaded into the server will continue to degrade the capacity significantly Moreover, the backup process will continue to require protracted periods of time Conversely, the Barracuda Message Archiver is designed with its own dedicated message store and processing capacity Its functionality includes a set of storage optimization features.

As illustrated in Figure 1, attachments are a driving factor behind storage saturation. The Microsoft Exchange stubbing feature mitigates the issue by offloading attachments to the Barracuda Message Archiver. The solution further includes deduplication and message compression. This design creates greater storage capacity and improved email server performance.

Non-Compliant Policy Enforcement

By default, Microsoft Exchange 2010 takes a user-centric approach rather than organization-focused approach to archiving. This setting does not meet regulatory compliance requirements.

While administrators can define default archiving policies for an organization, users can apply alternative policies that take precedence over those designed for the organization. As Figure 2 illustrates, while an administrator can create a default policy defined for a mailbox, a user can apply an alternative threshold that would take precedence and create an inconsistent archive across the entire mailbox. Not only does the inconsistency make it difficult for organizations to confirm regulatory compliance, but it provides an opportunity to delete emails before they are archived according to organizational policy.

More importantly, when email is archived, email content can still be deleted. Fundamentally, because organizations would be unable to credibly prove that they have archived all relevant emails, inconsistent archiving and the ability to delete email from archives would leave organizations non-compliant. In order to avoid these pitfalls, the Barracuda Message Archiver is designed to capture all messages in the email infrastructure. Only administrators are able to define archiving and retention policies, preventing unauthorized deletion and manipulation.

In order to enable litigation support in Microsoft Exchange 2010, extensive IT resources and time are required, especially when compared to a typical 30-minute Barracuda Message Archiver deployment.

Cursory Access and Search Capabilities

The Microsoft Exchange 2010 archive provides basic capabilities for searching through its archives. Unfortunately, its broad-based features limit the ability for the user to take granular, content-based actions for an organization.

On the other hand, the Barracuda Message Archiver features customizable string-based searches that can be conducted on both email and non-email content while also enabling users to specify whether to search in header or message fields. Multiple criteria can be aggregated to create multi-tiered searches. These provide organizations with the ability to customize the manner by which they search for and retain emails.

Hidden Deployment Costs

The Microsoft Exchange 2010 solution will require users to purchase Enterprise Client Access Licenses (CALs). This cost becomes unreasonably expensive relative to purchasing a Barracuda Message Archiver, especially if an organization is expected to grow. The incremental cost of Enterprise CALs alone drives the Barracuda Message Archiver to quickly become more cost effective, even for businesses with a small number of users.

As an example, over a three year period, a medium sized organization with 500 users will save approximately $15,000 per year, and a large organization with 1,000 members will save approximately $30,000 per year with a Barracuda Networks solution. This is largely driven by the fact that the Barracuda Message Archiver does not require per-user licenses. The cost differential grows as the number of users rises.

Conclusion

The Microsoft Exchange 2010 archiving capability will face challenges in meeting the comprehensive needs of archiving users. While it provides a first step, and validates the necessity to archive email, its implementation is inherently limited. Its storage of multiple instances of an email in a single database and overreaching user controls limit the ability to enhance storage management and meet compliance requirements. The Barracuda Message Archiver is necessary in order to enable dedicated email processing and full regulatory compliance. Further, the Barracuda Message Archiver provides enhanced policy features that create granular archiving and retention policies for an organization.