The prime minister wants to know who is leaking budget secrets. The Police Commissioner seeks officers checking out inappropriate email.
A law firm wishes to escape from "PST hell".
Meanwhile, IT managers all around them are grappling with storage issues for bulging inboxes across their organisations.
Storage is becoming sexier than ever, as public and private organisations are looking more closely at email archiving.
A vast array of pending challenges including legal or regulatory requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley and disaster recovery, are also pushing them towards this space.
In 2006, reports the Radicati Group of market researchers, the average corporate user sends and receives a total of 133 messages a day, accounting for about 16.4MB of data daily.
The group estimates the worldwide market for email archiving systems will grow from US$796 million in 2006, to almost US$7.8 billion by the end of 2010.
Furthermore, the worldwide installed base for hosted email archiving systems will rise from 7.9 million mailboxes in 2006, to 100 million mailboxes in 2010, reports Radicati.
A 2005 survey by the US-based ePolicy Institute says about 21 per cent of American employers had employee email and instant messages subpoenaed for a lawsuit or regulatory investigation. Thirteen per cent dealt with workplace lawsuits triggered by employee email. Yet, it points out, two-thirds of all companies lack email retention policies.
In January 2006, IDC reported an explosive expansion in email and email attachments. This, together with growing interest in regulatory compliance and corporate governance, will see robust market growth in email archiving applications in the coming years. IDC estimates 2005 revenues for providers of email archiving applications will top US$310 million worldwide, and grow at 34.5 per cent a year through 2009.
"As email becomes widely accepted as a record of business and as more firms adopt record retention policies that include electronic communications (email and instant messaging), we expect to see a robust uptake in the deployment of email archiving applications," says Vivian Tero, senior research analyst for compliance infrastructure at IDC.
"Basic email archiving functionality will become increasingly available in message and storage applications. However, many organisations will continue to purchase dedicated systems that provide a better fit for compliance and corporate governance requirements and integration with existing infrastructure," says Mark Levitt, research vice-president, collaborative computing at IDC.
Other key trends influencing the market, IDC notes, include continuing consolidation within the email archiving applications market, and the strong and ongoing preference for in-sourced versus outsourced email archiving systems.
Archiving New Zealand
Many corporates and organisations will have policies to store all records for 10 years, while others just have not gotten round to it yet.
The application of Archives Act 1957 did not envisage email, but section 2 of the Act on storage requirements for documents, operates regardless of the medium. It too, suggests email should be kept for 10 years if they are considered corporate records.
The Continuum Advisory Notice, issued by Archives New Zealand in June 2002, calls on organisations to determine policies on storing such messages for government.
While personal email do not have to be kept, corporate records have to be.
"Email dealing with official business is therefore subject to all the obligations in the Archives Act which apply to records in other forms," says chief archivist Dianne Macaskill.
Macaskill says once an organisation defines what is a "corporate record", corporate control must be extended over official messages. The measure aims to ensure "corporate needs for memory and evidence are met over and above those needs the individual user will naturally satisfy in order to carry out his or her role within the business".
However, on the office floor, it seems, much progress still has to be made. Canterbury District Health Board CIO Chris Dever says while other health boards will have electronic email archives, his does not, other than staff being able to archive their own email to archive folders.
"The CDHB is in the middle of a major project to migrate their 5000 users from 10 GroupWise servers onto one central Microsoft Exchange Server. The need to archive will be addressed once this is completed."
Foodstuffs South Island does not archive email either, with staff simply using Lotus Notes at an individual level. "We don't have a great problem or need to archive. High volume email users are managed via communication and training. Our email system is included in our DR solution," says GM of IT, Phil Wright.
Southern Cross IT manager April Walker comments: "Email archiving is on our list of things to look at this year but it's not something we've invested in to date."
ACC and compliance
The Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand processes more than 1.25 million compensation claims every year. It wanted its storage and compliance issues simplified and made cheaper for its 200 staff that are distributed across 31 branch offices and four call centres.
ACC's IT department manages approximately 250 servers which service 3000 PCs spread across 50 sites. These servers contain nearly 30 terabytes of data.
With increasing compliance requirements, including the Privacy Act, Public Records Act 2005, and the explosion of email and online claims processing, ACC's use of information services has dramatically increased.
ACC's servers run a mix of Microsoft Windows and Unix. Prior to installing EMC, Novell was the dominant file service supported by point installations of Veritas Back-up Exec and ArcServe. There was no service available to ensure protection of email from a compliance perspective, nor was there any ability to archive data.
"We had problems guaranteeing recovery for Windows file systems, resident applications and email. The system we had simply did not meet our business requirements," says Warwick Laing, head of ACC IT services.
ACC for example, must keep email for 10 years from the last date of action on a claim, and this was a huge task for the organisation. "Email retrieval was carried out manually. This was time-consuming and often inaccurate and we weren't certain that we'd captured them all," Laing continues.
Compounding the problem, ACC had nearly 50 individual tape back-up systems scattered across the country. ACC thus decided it wanted to simplify the issue with one central tape library to lower media costs. It also decided to store all email rather than categorise them.
ACC contacted idata, which developed a system using EMC applications including Legato Networker.
The system was organised into three areas: A central data store in the production data centre, remote back-up centres and branch sites.
Legato NetWorkers provides tape back-up at regional centres and the central store, with a fast restore of local files being its main regional use.
FullTime RepliStoris is used to replicate all data from branch and regional sites and stored in a central repository. DiskXtender helps with data archiving and Email Extender captures email as they enter the Microsoft Exchange Server, retaining them even if the end user deletes them.
Once stored, each email is tagged to protect the integrity of the data and prevent tampering. This provides proof of compliance for audits or regulatory examination.
EmailXtender can retrieve email across the entire organisation, including at remote sites.
Storing all email centrally eliminates message duplication while data compression further reduces the size of the archive, minimising storage costs. Management of the system is also simplified. The more structured and centralised storage environment also improves disaster recovery.
"We are now comfortable we can comply with the business requirements for retaining email and the disaster recovery requirements of our Windows system. Our customers are better served because we can recover service quicker," says Laing.
Since installing the system over a year ago, ACC adds the system has performed well. Laing says there were no implementation issues thanks to good planning, and the system's "plug and play" abilities.
Auckland-based law firm Hesketh Henry has decided to store all email, regardless of type, and its main objective is to readily retrieve that stored material.
"We have two main methods, says general manager Justin Cox. "Primarily we store email into our Interwoven document management system (this allows for profile, security and relationships to be added) and secondly, we retain all other email in the Archive Manager software."
"The Archive Manager Software has a 'connector' into our Worksite web interface, so the standard Interwoven website for each user includes access to Archive Manager. This access also reflects the security access settings that are individual to those users. Mail that are stored in Archive Manager that include document attachment links to the Interwoven documents are also retained," he continues.
"One key feature is the journaling function. You could call this a 'black box' as it retains copies of all sent and received email messages regardless of whether users delete email. It is a standard feature of Archive Manager and one of the core reasons we purchased it."
Hesketh Henry also uses Archive manager to eliminate PST files. "We apply the same rules that we did for archiving to PST, but instead it is stored in Archive Manager. This has significant implications by way of reduction in storage and the resulting benefits to back-up. We have stopped bricks level back up in Exchange, for example. In essence, we have removed what is commonly referred to as 'PST hell'.
"IT support is also simplified for those users who delete email and then need access to it. The software provides users with tools to recover these themselves or IT can attend to this with little time required."
Lawrence Russell, country manager for Quest Software, which produces Archive Manager, claims government departments like those of the Prime Minister, can help plug leaks in their offices.
The software, he explains, offers "bitstream analysis" that can produce a "unique fingerprint" for messages so technicians can identify who sent a particular email and who received it.
He says some government departments have already bought the software, which can be fitted with "Image Analyser" and "Curvature Analysis". These products can detect, for instance, if porn sites are being accessed because they can look for certain skin tones and faces.
Other organisations are opting for managed services such as those from MessageLabs and IBM.
Graeme McInnes, NZ products manager for IBM Tivoli, says increasingly customers will have to ensure their purchases are "futureproof" to account for new technologies.
IBM Tivoli has an offering called Commonstore and Content Manager, which is used by banks and one government department in New Zealand.
McInnes notes local councils must have email systems in place by 2010 and the government expects similar standards from business.
In time, he says, authorities will one day demand the storage of VoIP-based digital phone calls. After all, such phone calls are just digital data.
He also advises organisations to consider systems that store more than just email, and which include attachments and other documents. They should also integrate with content management and other systems to ease auditing. He says when installing an archiving system, it is essential the email cannot be tampered with, otherwise, "its value is minimal".
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.