Channel Explained: Hosted email archiving

Email archiving eases compliance with federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA. But SMBs often can't afford to handle it on site; they may want hosted email archiving. Channel professionals can provide this service. This IT Channel Explained article clarifies what hosted email archiving is and what the implementation methods are.

By Yuval Shavit , Features Writer

Hosted email archiving is a method of storing a company's old emails at an off-site location. Archived messages are indexed, so users can search for specific terms or parameters. Unlike point-in-time snapshot backups, which are designed for restoring whole systems, archives give piecemeal access to data and are meant for accessing old information.

Although it is possible for channel partners to host this service themselves, it is more common for them to partner with a vendor and resell the vendor's hosted email archiving services. In some cases, the vendor may allow the reseller to rebrand the service so it looks like the reseller's own product to the end user.

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Email archiving client concerns

Aside from being a convenience, email archiving is important in many legal situations. Public companies that need to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or HIPAA may be asked to show email trails as part of enforcement for these regulations. Even private companies may need to produce this kind of evidence if they are sued in civil courts. Updates to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) enacted in December 2006 specify that litigants may request electronic information as part of a suit's discovery phase. Any company is susceptible to civil suits, and being able to produce relevant emails quickly -- and prove that they have not been tampered with -- can save your clients time and money.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that don't have the resources to install and maintain an on-site email archiving system may consider hosted email archiving instead. Hosted email archiving is quicker to set up, but as with any hosted service, your clients may be uncomfortable storing potentially sensitive data offsite.

There are two methods of implementing hosted email archiving. The first is to connect to the hosted service provider and forward all emails through a secure connection, such as a VPN. Those emails are then indexed and stored at that vendor's facility, and the customer can later retrieve them. The second method, often referred to as a hybrid model, involves installing an appliance on your client's network that indexes and encrypts emails, which are then sent to the off-site provider for storage. This lets your client's IT staff keep control of users' mailboxes and the archiving system while saving money on storage.

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