Email Storage – There is an answer!

Mailbox Full! – aagghh what to do?

by Jeff Laubhan – Waterford Technologies

As an IT administrator, you can’t always educate your end users on cleaning out their email boxes or dictate to them the size of emails they send or receive. Your Exchange server is probably your most expensive server and the most difficult one to save space on; if your server ever goes down and emails are lost, chances are, your job will be gone just as quickly as those emails. So how do we deal with email storage?  I have been hearing this story for years now and it’s a sad story that unfortunately will only get worse. More emails will get sent, larger attachments will get emailed. Heck, I emailed a friend a 24 MB ebook the other day and was actually surprised it went through. Maybe that’s why our IT manager gives me dirty looks these days?

Microsoft removed SIS (single instance storage) starting from Exchange 2010 so well, the problem is just compounding. As one IT Email StorageDirector told me, “yea that migration was a pain in the #$#% to begin with, now my job just got harder”.

So, what to do, what to do? Back in the days of dial-up (yes, you can tell how old you are if you remember that!!), I would save off the attachments from the email locally to keep the mailbox small but that’s time consuming. About 8 years ago we thought what if we could take the idea and make it simple, easy, automatic. Seriously, where do I sign? What’s the catch? Hidden fees?

We thought what if we analyzed the attachments (those softball video’s that everyone needs to have and emails everyone and their mother, actually maybe they do?) and moved them off to cheaper storage and replaced with a link. The end user clicks on the file that looks the exact same and presto, it opens. So, I ran this by a client and she asked what the criteria I could use to do this are? I thought age is easy, say everything older than a year, users won’t open those files very often. The IT Director I was speaking said what about size, type, and other criteria? Sure but let’s KISS. She said, well, I don’t know you very well, are you asking to kiss me? No, I said Keep It Simple Stupid – no, you aren’t stupid but let’s just go with a simple policy that’s easy for you to manage and end users to get.

And out came our Storage Manager module about 9 months later. This might sound like a long time but because we had to test from all devices and methods to get to email. iPhone, iPad, iWatch, iShoe, we don’t care, however you get to email you can get to those attachments. Forget about full archiving for legal discovery, let’s just solve a storage problem for a price point where you can give me a credit card and call it a day.

Storage Manager is just as much a job protector as it is a server-saver. When Waterford Technologies developed its Storage Manager solution, it revolved around solving these issues.

The term “stubbing” often confuses prospective customers who are more than qualified to at the very least tease the idea of implementing Storage Manager into their unique server environment. One client I had talked to earlier this week had over 500 email boxes and well over 2TB of data on his exchange servers and was at a loss as to how to increase space on his server as his company did not have the money to buy a new server. He needed a solution and he needed it NOW.

As I got to talking to him about the architecture of our software, he stopped me. What on earth is stubbing? And how would it affect his end users? Not only that, but how would the software know when to stub attachments and when to leave them alone?

1.)    Policies: The IT administrator is able to set up rules for this software, using categories such as last modified, time, date, file size and file type. Typically we see clients implement their policies to stub emails after a year, although I had one client set up his policy to stub everything after 30 days. He will probably never have to even think about buying another exchange server again.

2.)    Stubbing: Basically this is a shortcut that will take the place of the attachment on the main server directed back to the cheap disk where the single instanced file is stored. It will not appear any differently to the end user, offering a seamless presentation of the attachment.

 Email Storage with Storage Manager

Another prospective client had valid concerns. “Will the email messages be tampered with? Will this hurt the flow of emails?” Storage manager will never touch the messages themselves, just the attachments. Say for example HR sends out a huge PDF on updated health care benefits to the entire office. If you’re a small company with only 5 employees, you probably don’t have to worry too much about those emails on your server. But say you had 20+ employees, that’s the same PDF in 20+ email boxes that has been opened and is not just sitting on your exchange server once, but 20+ times. This is where the importance of single instancing comes into play. With Storage Manager, that 20+ PDF becomes 1 PDF saved on cheap disk with 20+  shortcut stubs taking its place on the main server, 1KB a piece.

Again, forget about archiving if you aren’t worried about that, be the hero, shrink the server and sleep better at night.

For more information on managing email storage click here