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Before SOX, Archiving Was Just Good Procedure

For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it may be the only procedure.
For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it may be the only procedure.

Security is still the biggest concern for SMBs when it comes to their messaging systems, but archiving is starting to pick up steam as a priority for this group as well as large enterprises.

So says a report just published by the Radicati Group, which contains the results of Radicati's survey of businesses with less than 500 employees.Slightly more than a quarter of the SMBs in the sample have installed an e-mail archiving system, according to the report, titled "SMB Market: Messaging and Collaboration Survey, 2005-2006." Perhaps more interesting, 24 percent of the responding companies not currently using an e-mail archiving system plan to do so within the next year.

That level of archiving penetration in the SMB space was sort of surprising at first. Surely, half the SMBs can't be archiving e-mail for compliance reasons, or could they be?

I think the answer is (you guessed it) yes and no. While many, and probably most, SMBs don't face direct regulatory pressure to archive their messages, many that do business with larger regulated companies feel compelled to apply many of the same compliance processes in order keep that business.

That said, it probably still doesn't get us to 50 percent unless SMBs are archiving for other reasons. Bingo! In the last couple years, message archiving has become synonymous with regulatory compliance, but we have to remember that archiving products were available in pre-Sarbanes-Oxley times.

Other reasons to archive messages are numerous. It helps enforce message policies and reduces the load on E-mail servers. For SMBs that is doubly important because they rarely have dedicated resources to apply to this growing problem. Archiving can also aid the legal discovery process, which can be an enormous hit to a small business that has to manually search through old backup tapes for evidential messages.

IT resources are usually scant within SMBs so anything that can automate the drudgery of those duties is beneficial. In fact, C2C just released a free white paper with tips for using your e-mail archiving system in a messaging system migration project. The timing was good since Microsoft will stop supporting its Exchange 5.5 server at the end of the month.

And, finally, e-mail archiving systems can pull double-duty in small companies as content management systems. Even at large companies, some users can't be trained away from using their e-mail client as a filing system and in small organizations with fewer formal policies, the practice is still rampant, even encouraged. In such a setting, an archiving system may be a relatively inexpensive way to manage all that content disguising itself as attachments.

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