The Good About Office 365 Email Archiving
The adoption rates for Office 365 continue to be very strong. It is effectively the future of cloud-based business productivity solutions. It integrates very well with existing infrastructure for many organizations who are already using the Microsoft productivity suite, offers strong general security features and authentication mechanisms, while it protects most data from companies large and small. O365 has effectively adapted to the latest trends in messaging, document production, video communication and more – all for out-of-the-box subscription prices that makes it comprehensive without being prohibitively expensive.
Microsoft, being a company accustomed to offering systems meant to serve the largest corporations and organizations in the world, also offers an intense amount of visibility and granularity for IT Directors and Legal Teams to protect and restrict information, whether it’s who has access within an organization, or what goes in and out of an organization’s communications channels and cloud systems.
Particular to email archiving solutions, Microsoft offers a decent range of services, though often at the highest costing EOP packages. This includes In-Place Email Archive, In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold, Integrated management interface from within the Exchange Administration Center, Unlimited Storage and more. There is some flexibility with permissions – users can access and manage their archived email, while admins can manage retention policies. Fundamentally, these are all very good things that Office 365 and its archiving have to offer.
The Bad about Office 365 Email Archiving
There is plenty that O365 offers, but we would like to point out a few areas that might be of concern to your organization.
The Need for an Immutable and tamper proof archive
The first concern is that for legal purposes, having by default an immutable and tamper proof archive is legally required under several regulations to remain compliant. It is essential that users can’t erase or modify emails, at the risk of being found liable in legal proceedings. If users can edit, modify or delete archived emails, you might not be compliant.
Backups that fall short
The O365 backup of emails allows users to delete emails before the email is backed up at the backup interval established by the admin policies. For example if a user sends an email that would be illegal for any reason and relevant to litigation – but is able to immediately delete the copy from his or her archive before it is backed up centrally, your organization can be found legally at fault. A primary difference between a backup and an archive is that an archive backs-up emails in real time allowing for system restoration to any point of time.
Maintaining an archive when moving to the cloud
Moving from On-Premise to O365 presents a challenge for keeping old archives – not only backups. If you want to migrate your old archives from on premise to integrate with your cloud archive to ensure metadata, content and more is integrated – you’ll need a 3rd party solution, as Office 365 doesn’t provide this capability.
Minimal eDiscovery features
In the event of litigation, you’ll need to be able to look through years of emails rapidly to uncover crucial information and do so with confidence that it is comprehensive. The default limit of search results in Office 365 is 250 results. That is not sufficient for most large scale litigation. It can also result in a very costly eDiscovery process. You’ll also be unable to search through all file types. Search in O365 allows for indexing of Office documents, PDF files and textual documents. This is well short of the 500+ document types (including documents within zip files) that leading cloud solutions offer.
Costs of meeting your needs
With many of the options that Office 365 Email Archiving offers to meet compliance needs, it can become very costly quickly. Compared to 3rd party offerings, you may wind up paying more for your basic email archiving needs. There’s a limit to the amount you can store, that is not insurmountable, but does require regular maintenance of archived material to keep within limits – which requires time commitment.
And “The Ugly”
Office 365’s Archiving is slow
Saying something’s ugly is mean, but in keeping with our theme, the one thing that is unpleasant about Office 365’s email Archiving is that it’s slow. This is the nature of the beast when it comes to In-Place email Archiving, which requires reference to different devices, storage mechanism and more whenever a global search is executed. Let’s say you want every document mentioning a particular full name or email across your entire company for 5 years. That search would be excruciatingly slow compared to what’s offered with a cloud archive. Then imagine: what happens if that search wasn’t enough? What happens if you need two or three granular follow ups to get the exact documentation you need from your email archive? It can get ugly fast.
Office 365 Is The Future, But Does Have Shortcomings.
Ultimately, trends will continue to push more and more companies that are using on-premise solutions to the cloud. It is often simpler to manage, integrates well with other applications, can be valuable for continuity and add the potential to reduce costs. But as more companies move to Office 365 for their email security, email continuity and encryption, it is key to note the shortcomings and where 3rd party integrations offer very good value, and also improve all of the outcomes and compliance needs that are relevant to archiving, and what can be achieved specifically by a cloud solution.