Our team recently completed a webinar for Windows IT Pro Magazine recapping the archiving and Ediscovery compliance features in Exchange 2010. During the course of our preparation, I took a closer look at some of the archiving improvements introduced by Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Exchange 2010 and feel that some of these findings are worth taking another look. 

If you are considering using Exchange archiving, you probably already know that the archived data is placed in a separate mail store called the Personal Archive.  This mail store is a peer to the primary mailbox and has been widely promoted as being more efficient than using Outlook’s archive PST file.  Prior to SP1, both the primary mailbox and the Personal archive had to be located in the same database storage group. This posed a BIG problem for administrators since large volumes of Personal Archive mail could easily overwhelm the primary storage database.  Microsoft responded to this critique in SP1 by allowing the Personal Archive to be placed in a separate mailbox database.

With regards to other archiving improvements in SP1, the list also includes:

  • The ability to import PST data directly into the Personal Archive (although this must be done an Exchange command shell prompt
  • Support for delegating access to Personal Archive and new retention policy tags for both the Calendar and Tasks folders

Together, these new SP1 features make it clear that Microsoft has a serious committment to the archiving capabilities in Exchange 2010.
If you are planning a migration in the near future, there are still a few items that you need to consider when weighing the decision to use on-board Exchange archiving or purchase a separate product.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Think carefully about deploying Office 2010 prior to implementing archiving. Users can only access their archives through OWA or Outlook 2010 and there has been a great deal of controversy essentially forcing customers to move to the latest version of Office
  • Spend some time thinking about your retention needs. Even in SP1, retention tags are  fairly limited and based solely on an age criteria at present. There is no provision for checking on message size, subject or other MAPI properties when you create your archiving policies
  • PST Migration, although possible, is still largely a command line exercise for administrators or a manual process for Outlook users
  • Don’t forget, in order to utilize Archiving, you will need to have Exchange Enterprise CAL’s for your users (archiving is not supported with the standard Client Access License)

If any of these areas are inconsistent with your archiving plans, investigate third party solutions such as Sherpa Software’s Archive Attender.  Because they have been on the market for a long time, these tools offer an extensive set of features and options that can meet the information management challenges most organizations face.

Continue the conversation by speaking to a Sherpa representative.