By implementing Mimosa NearPoint email archiving software, civil engineering group BAM Nuttall has cut the proliferation of Microsoft Exchange PST files, saved £30,000 and moved one step closer to achieving legal compliance.
BAM Nuttall delivers civil engineering projects across the UK. The Camberley, Surrey-based company has 3,500 full- and part-time employees nationwide, as well as a geographically dispersed infrastructure connecting more than 130 project sites and 15 regional offices. Email is used to keep projects on track; 2,000 Microsoft Exchange mailbox users send and receive AutoCAD drawings and PowerPoint presentations that can reach 20 MB in size.
The volume of email and the size of messages had increased significantly over recent years. This brought challenges on a number of fronts. Storage was impacted as large attached files were often duplicated many times and sent to multiple recipients. Storage-area network (SAN) capacity was running out while the performance of the company's 15 Microsoft Exchange servers was also degraded.
In an attempt to limit the volume of email data stored, BAM Nuttall imposed a mailbox quota of 250 MB. But such a limit was impractical for many users who then saved mail to Exchange PST files, sometimes on network drives but also to local disk. This meant emails often couldn't be backed up; were often not searchable, which was potentially costly when project information couldn't be found; and risked falling foul of legal compliance regulations, which require the retention of emails.
"We didn't have control over the expansion of email," said Steve Shepherd, head of ICT services at BAM Nuttall. "We put user limits in place, but we constantly faced demand to increase those limits and there was also the issue of PST files proliferating."
In addition, he said, "we'd also had requests from HR to become compliant in case of an employee claim situation — there just wasn't a way to be sure we had all our employees' emails or to be able to find what we wanted among them. And we wanted to be able to find information from emails that concerned disputes with customers."
BAM Nuttall opted to implement Mimosa NearPoint for Exchange, which archives files in addition to email messages, and offers disaster recovery (DR) and PST management options.
The software was originally installed on two physical servers writing to Dell EqualLogic iSCSI storage with 66% SAS and the remainder SATA drives. All email archiving data is replicated to identical hardware at its Halesowen, West Midlands, DR site.
Shepherd's team chose NearPoint after evaluating a number of vendors' email archiving products, including those from C2C Systems, CommVault, Softek and Symantec. He said the team chose Mimosa because it was the only email archiving software tool that didn't rely on first-generation MAPI and journaling methods of data capture, which put a strain on the Microsoft Exchange server.
"NearPoint uses log shipping to gather Exchange metadata relating to email such as messages, calendar items, tasks and contacts, and this doesn't affect Exchange server performance," he said. "Log shipping creates a standby of the Exchange database that NearPoint uses to recover data from."
Mimosa benefits: single instancing and agentless technology
A key benefit of the Mimosa implementation was a financial saving of approximately £30,000 that BAM Nuttall avoided spending on extra capacity for the EqualLogic SAN because single instancing in the NearPoint product dramatically reduced the volume of duplicated email content.
"We gained a 50% space saving of about 2 TB on our SAN straight away," Shepherd said.
Single instancing eliminates identical copies of emails and attachments in the archive and can significantly cut the capacity required to store them as such files are often duplicated many times as they are sent to multiple recipients.
Being agentless meant that BAM Nuttall installed NearPoint for 2,000 mailbox users in less than three days. Shepherd's team is now importing existing PSTs into the NearPoint email archiving store from disparate locations using the software's "PST harvesting" tool.