Not Your Grandfather’s Archive: Three Key Features for Today’s Smart Archive

Robert Cruz<br/>ActianceRobert Cruz

Robert Cruz is Sr. Director of Information Governance at Actiance.

Yesterday’s archives can’t handle the challenges of today’s modern enterprise, let alone the challenges enterprises are bound to face in the future as communication channels rapidly evolve.

The variety of communication sources has dramatically changed, expanding to include instant messaging, unified communications, enterprise social networks, social media, and more.

Old school archives were built at a time when an organization’s primary communication vehicle was email, and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook had not yet gained massive popularity. Expecting these antiquated archives to perform in today’s world is akin to using your grandparent’s landline phone as a primary mode of contact.

So how does today’s archive different from the archive of yesteryear?

To start, it lives in the cloud. Cloud-based archiving has been touted as the next generation of archiving for the modern enterprise because organizations aren’t faced with enormous set up and on-going maintenance costs. Additionally, there are minimal staffing requirements, and, as a company grows, cloud archives can easily accommodate that growth without concern for infrastructure modifications.

However, not all cloud archives are created equal. All too often, existing archiving solutions are built on traditional computing architectures and have simply been “relocated” to the cloud. These archives are not purpose-built for the cloud, do not adequately exploit the advantages of cloud infrastructure, and fail to scale to handle the exponential increase in data volumes.

Finally, it should not force companies to convert rich content from unified communications, IM, and public social networks into email to be reviewed. Understanding the context of a conversation that took place across 15 tweets and 5 LinkedIn posts over 2 days is not easy if that content is archived as 20 distinct email messages. Crucial posts may easily be missed, and legal teams could waste multiple hours attempting to piece together a conversation thread to find out what really transpired.

To be considered a smart archive suited for today’s enterprise, it should have the following qualities:

Dynamic Scaling

Enterprise users generate millions of data every day in various forms including emails, instant messages and persistent chats, blogs, wiki pages, and social media posts. Given the ever-growing data sources that should be archived, governed, and made discoverable, archives have to keep up with the exponential growth of data overall.

For example, social communications alone create a massive data influx. Social posts are enveloped in metadata that tell the full story of a communication thread, at any point in time, and should be captured when archiving these new forms of communication. Without the metadata, review and governance of these communications is next to impossible as there is no correlation of one post, thread or tweet to another.

The enterprise cloud archive must also be designed to handle the ingestion of both real-time data and historical data from an existing messaging source or an archive. This requires dynamic scaling to handle the increase in data volume and variety.

Fast Search

When an archive swells, search performance suffers because the underlying search technology is unable to process vast data stores efficiently. The result can be searches that take far too long and performance can become erratic, which not only wastes time and money, but also reduces the ability to look to an archive as the definitive source of truth.

Google has set an expectation for search speed and today’s archive should meet that. Users anticipate seeing search results instantly, often in less than a second, irrespective of the volume or variety of data being searched. Searching your archive for eDiscovery purposes should also deliver consistency and fidelity every time.

Context Aware Results

With a traditional email archive, reviewers can’t understand the relationship between and among various emails unless they spend a great deal of time combing through the metadata or looking through the actual content of each individual message to try to thread them together.

Traditional archives retain real-time communications as simple, uncorrelated emails. In doing so, they fail to capture thecontext of those communications: their relevance is lost and the cost of review for eDiscovery and regulatory audits is increased. In short, the conversation becomes an indiscernible mess.

Smart archive solutions must save the entire conversation thread for an accurate chronological representation of the conversation, even if a portion of a conversation has been edited or deleted. Reviewers can thereby appreciate the relevance of complex interaction events, such as real-time chat, blog entries or discussion board comments in a single view.

Communication and collaboration patterns have radically changed within the past 5 years, and it’s now time to retire outdated email-centric technologies whose time has passed. Armed with a smart, cloud-based archive, reviewers can begin to see archiving as a source of company intelligence that not only manages information governance practices, but also builds competitive advantages.

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