The email archiving market has seen a noticeable uptick in recent years. Businesses have been increasingly compelled to get a grip on their email systems due to regulatory compliance requirements. They must now ensure that the valuable information contained in emails is kept, searchable and doesn't overwhelm storage resources.
According to Gartner research, while only 10% to 20% of organisations have implemented email archiving technology to date, the market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is set to grow at an annual rate of approximately 16.3%, valuing it at £186m by 2013.
Microsoft Exchange Server could change market
But Brian Hill, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, believes that while penetration may be relatively low at the moment, this situation will change significantly over the next 18 months with Microsoft's release of Exchange Server 2010 at the end of this year.
"Microsoft, with its forthcoming Exchange 2010, will offer baseline functionality and, given how widely Exchange is currently deployed and the vendor's marketing muscle, we expect to see a good number employ it or at least consider it," Hill said. "Migration processes take a while, but Microsoft's presence will have a significant impact on the email archiving market."
The company's entrance into the market will also likely result in incumbents such as Autonomy and Symantec dropping prices so they can compete more effectively. At the same time, Microsoft's entry may whet customers' appetite for higher end products and services, opening up the email archiving sector still further.
Market consolidation is expected as smaller vendors come under increasing pressure to compete, and larger vendors attempt to differentiate their offerings by purchasing additional functionality.
Compliance and email retention policies major adoption concerns
Currently, email archiving uptake is most prevalent in highly regulated industries such as financial services, pharmaceuticals and legal, all of which are fairly saturated. But deployment is also occurring among organisations that rely heavily on email as a communications vehicle. "The first predominant use case is cost reduction," said Sheila Childs, a research director at Gartner. "The massive growth in email means that organisations want the ability to reduce both their storage footprint and backup and recovery times by working with a smaller set of data."
A related driver is the desire to improve the performance of email servers such as Microsoft's Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes, which can start to creak under the strain of large email databases.
Another major driver is compliance and the requirement to undertake e-discovery. The aim here is to make it easier for enterprises to perform email searches as part of an internal investigation to prepare evidence for possible litigation.
Although such compliance issues are significantly greater factors for adoption of email archiving in the US due to strict regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, interest among multinationals that need to retain and search their email content quickly and accurately is mounting. This is particularly true of organisations with US subsidiaries that are subject to local regulations.
Market inhibitors, on the other hand, include relatively high licence fees (although these are starting to fall), the cost of deployment and the need to ingest existing emails into the new system. "There's a lot of price sensitivity right now and many customers are buying based on price," Childs said.
Another challenge is defining email retention policies because IT, legal, compliance and business issues all need to be taken into consideration. "There's often analysis paralysis at some level," Childs said. "We recommend that customers start with a simple policy to enable them to take advantage of archiving because if you wait for an agreed policy, you may never get there. It's a very big challenge."
Email archiving vs. backup and restore
Email archiving currently tends to be the domain of larger organisations, as smaller companies often simply back up their email -- unless they experience particularly high levels of traffic and start hitting problems.
Email archiving involves removing messages to a separate repository for easy and accurate searching at a later date if required. A key benefit of archiving is that it becomes possible to add retention policies to the data. In most instances, the repository also needs to be backed up for disaster recovery (DR) purposes. But because it contains generally static data, it may not have to be backed up as frequently as other applications.
Backup entails replicating and saving data to storage media such as tape or disk so that it can be recovered if a given system goes down or some data gets damaged. The aim is to ensure that important business data isn't lost in the case of a disaster.
Email archiving product categories
Email archiving systems that run in-house are best suited to organisations that want to cut costs by reducing storage and backup requirements, and also improve mailbox management by introducing policies. Emails are usually replaced in users' mailboxes with a "stub" or shortcut icon after a pre-determined length of time, while the actual email is moved to the archive to reduce mailbox size. E-discovery tools or functionality can be activated or purchased separately to enable speedy searches for legal purposes.
According to Gartner, these products are sold mainly to medium- and larger-sized enterprises and currently comprise approximately 51% of the total market. Vendors in this space include Autonomy, CA, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Mimosa Systems and Symantec.
Hosted offerings and Software-as-a-service
With service offerings, a single instance of an email is copied, journaled into an offsite archive and indexed as soon as it arrives for easy searching. Often, both the archiving software and storage for the repository are offsite. Disaster recovery provisioning also comes as part of the package. This option is also becoming increasingly popular during the recession as services are relatively quick and easy to implement, and are accounted for in operational rather than capital budgets. This means no upfront expenditure is required as payment occurs on a monthly subscription basis.
Such offerings currently comprise approximately 42% of the market, according to Gartner, but growth rates are more than twice that of on-premises systems. Key vendors in this area include Autonomy; Dell's MessageOne; Google, which offers a service from Postini; and Iron Mountain.
Email archiving appliances
Appliances are much simpler and cost less than on-premises systems because they're black-box devices that include a storage component and simply plug into the network. Appliances are most suitable for smaller organisations because they have a theoretical mailbox limit of 5,000, but perform best at around the 500 mark, after which time additional devices may need to be purchased. Although such equipment currently accounts for only 7% of the market, growth rates were approximately 91% last year, according to Gartner. Key vendors in this area include ArcMail Technology, Barracuda Networks and Intradyn.