SmartAdvice: Demonstrate IT's Business Value At Budget Time - InformationWeek

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11/12/2004
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SmartAdvice: Demonstrate IT's Business Value At Budget Time

Justify the budget by showing IT as an asset and highlighting the business value it creates, The Advisory Council says. Also, look for fit with company polices and ease in integration when evaluating message-management systems; and the key for CIO survival is IT asset management.

Question B: What issues should we consider when evaluating an E-mail archiving solution?

Our advice: Compliance with legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley has forced enterprises to address the archiving of E-mail and other electronic messages. This is complicated by the need to integrate with enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP systems, and by the rapid growth in both the volume and variety of electronic messages.

Fortunately, message-archiving software has matured to meet the challenge. These systems:

  • Enforce company message-retention and privacy policies.
  • Ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Enable data visibility into E-mail archives for all business functions, including sales and marketing.
  • Provide desktop efficiencies. Users no longer have to deal with E-mail quotas and ad hoc backup and recovery.
  • Reduce IT costs associated with managing disparate repositories of messages across the network.

Message-management systems are stabilizing, but still evolving. This evolution makes evaluating vendor offerings both easier and more difficult. Easier, in that some offerings clearly won't meet objective requirements, such as support for certain E-mail servers. More difficult, in that subjective evaluation becomes critically important. Regulation and technology trends, and the vendors' vision, direction, focus, and alignment with archiving needs, have a great impact on evaluations.


Related Links
Content Pipeline

Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Journal

Microsoft Exchange Server Partners: Archiving and Compliance
What To Look For

  • Fit with corporate message-retention and privacy policies and procedures
  • Support for legal and regulatory compliance, including industry-specific requirements
  • Seamless integration with corporate E-mail clients and other messaging clients
  • Self-service interface for E-mail users
  • Comprehensive management of messages: local E-mail repositories (e.g., Microsoft Outlook .pst files), mobile message devices, messages manually saved to a local or shared file system, and IM logs
  • Full functionality for meta information: E-mail headers/envelope information such as bcc list, distribution lists, IM participants, etc.
  • Self-service interfaces and utilities for compliance personnel
  • Audit trails and non-tampering mechanisms
  • Extensible indexing and search capability
  • Support for integration to other IT systems via services-oriented architecture or application-programming interfaces
  • Full support for E-mail attachments: Indexing and search, systems integration, auditing, compliance utilities, etc.
  • Vendor stability: Financial, focus, vision, support, and product execution (speed of response and updates)
  • Fit with IT infrastructure standards
  • Scalability: Scalability of volume of data is critical and often underestimated.

Here's a road map for implementing appropriate systems to enforce message-archiving policies:

  • Determine the extent to which messages are distributed through the enterprise.
  • Update retention policies (including legal requirements), and the policies for updating the policies.
  • Clearly define organizational lines of responsibility for implementing retention policies.
  • Evaluate the current corporate message-archiving processes with regard to compliance to company policies.
  • Determine future processes required to comply with company policies.
  • Evaluate E-mail archiving solutions: vendor, home-grown, ad hoc, for best fit in enabling required future processes.
  • Develop an implementation plan for the resulting best-fit solution.

--Peter Sorrentino

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