Organisations of all sizes are beginning to realise the importance and relevance of the diverse and rapidly developing field of corporate governance. Compliance with regulatory requirements is really just the tip of the iceberg and unless companies have the systems and processes in place to manage business information, they will struggle to meet the high standards that stakeholders have come to expect. The sheer scale of the tasks involved with ensuring repeatable, auditable regulatory compliance requires the support of automated systems. Information archiving is an important component.
For CODA?s Group IT Manager, Richard Hall, lack of space for electronic storage was becoming a growing concern. ?We were dealing with backup issues and ever increasing storage demands and we were spending hours on manual back-up and information retrieval,? explains Hall. ?With millions of emails passing through the company every year, it was time and cost intensive to archive and search them and we were aware that we could be leaving the business open to risk.?
Like most businesses, email is CODA?s number one vehicle for communication, a lot of which contain sensitive information relating to customer contracts and software licensing. ?There had been instances where a business critical email needed recovering and it was taking us a long time. Also, for emails and other documents to be admissible in court, you must be able to prove that items have not been tampered with. While we are not regulated per se, we help our customers deal with compliance issues and sell products to tackle them, so we felt we needed improved storage and archiving of emails. Also, staff were too reliant on insecure, distributed personal folders to store their email,? says Hall.
CODA began its search by looking for a simple email archiving solution. It was only later that the company realised its requirements were more complex than that and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) should be considered as a more all-encompassing strategy.
Hewlett-Packard?s Reference Information Storage System (RISS) is an all in one solution provided and supported by HP, which would store emails and prevent them from being tampered with. As Hall points out, ?this was important to CODA. We had to consider the possibility of having to defend the company?s email archiving practices in court. Searching through information to retrieve it quickly is key for any organisation, particularly one like ours. It gives us complete access to years of emails, PDFs and other documents in digital format.?
CODA purchased the new system through its long-term reseller Panacea Services Limited. According to Hall, ?CODA assessed a number of different solutions where the vendors claimed to offer compliance solutions. But compliance isn?t about storage and I quickly realised that what they were saying didn?t add up. It?s about being able to prove where information has come from and that it hasn?t been altered in any way. Given the current climate around Corporate Governance, this is an important issue to us and so the decision to purchase RISS was essentially driven by the Board. More companies should look at this kind of project as a business process improvement project rather than an IT project.?
As a result of choosing the RISS solution, CODA has overhauled its IT compliance strategy company-wide in order to meet high standards of self-governance. The Data Protection Act has been taken into account amongst a raft of other business regulation. In accordance with that, the HP solution will save and retain virus checked emails with attachments for the required number of years before automatically destroying them. Old documents that were previously on paper can also be scanned and filed in a library system.
CODA claims the new system is incredibly easy to manage. Hall can now search and find emails based around a number of criteria in minutes rather than the hours it used to take to search a back-up tape. And, training requirements were minimal. ?Our IT team needs to know how to search the system, but the search screen is very intuitive. If you know how to search the web using sites like Google or MSN, you can quickly exploit the archive to access the corporate knowledge stored in years of email.
The solution means that there are no longer risks associated with decentralised, unsecured Personal email folders, so CODA?s number one information asset is secured. Now that email is archived, indexed and searchable CODA believes it can extract value and business advantage. Information stores in Microsoft Exchange have been reduced, thereby reducing time and resource requirements for backups. It?s quicker and less painful to perform offline maintenance. Users now have infinite mail boxes and whenever email retrieval is necessary CODA can find the information in about five minutes.
Based on the company?s estimates - that its employees send and receive more than six million emails every year, a number that is growing exponentially year on year - CODA believes it will make huge efficiency savings and will see a return on investment in the next two years. Hall concludes that the main benefit is that ?CODA now has piece of mind around its entire electronic storage system. Not many companies can claim that. We are still rolling out the system to the rest of the organisation, which we hope to complete soon; and we will continue to look at similar solutions in the future so that we can always have full confidence in our systems and business processes.?
Tags: Cloud Storage, Compliance, Deduplication, Disk/RAID/Tape/SSDs, Tiered Storage, Data Centres