The American Data Horror Story: The Day the Email Disappeared

Posted 28 October 2014 8:00 PM by Commvault



As IT professionals, we fret over security breaches, stress about the agility of our infrastructure and have anxiety when new demands, such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives are added to our list of management tasks. But have you thought about what would happen if you came in Monday morning to learn that your corporate email was down? Now, let’s take it a step further. You finally get email up and running again, only to discover that a critical email thread, containing a controversial and confidential project your executives need, is simply lost forever, due to inadequate or faulty archiving.

Business depends on email and email requires a solid archiving solution. Let’s look at five scenarios that could happen without an enterprise-class email and archiving solution. The Day the Email Disappeared. It may not be something you’ll find on Netflix, but it could happen to you.

1. The Creative Genius Loves Ad Hoc But You Don’t

Joe is a brilliant software developer but doesn’t particularly like to follow company rules about proper email storage. When the company email system went down, a highly sensitive email created by Joe became inaccessible just hours before an internal design review was to take place. Joe thought that the email would be properly stored in his local PST. But, what Joe didn’t know is that his PST file had become corrupted – a very common problem when PST files become too large. Even after the email system came back online, Joe was unable to quickly recover his needed email because the PST folder still needed to be repaired. He assumed others on the team had saved the latest copy. It turns out they didn’t. The inadequate protection of email caused the design review to be put off for several days, thus delaying progress on a key software project. If Commvault® Simpana® software had been in place, the design team could have avoided this delay. Simpana for Email Archive can integrate troublesome PST files into the Simpana ContentStore, enabling the files to be searched and accessed literally in seconds.

2. Medical Claim Issues: A Headache IT Wants to Avoid

It’s Friday afternoon and your staff is beginning to think about fantasy football, kids’ soccer schedules and the general pleasantries of downtime. Then the proverbial hit-the-fan event occurs. There is a request from the health plan administrator for eDiscovery of certain critical emails pertaining to a very costly employee health benefits claim. That is precisely what happened at a teaching hospital in the Philadelphia area when two emails were discovered to be either missing or deleted. At stake was a claim for coverage by the State of Pennsylvania on behalf of a long-term brain injury patient. Fortunately, the hospital had eDiscovery enabled by Commvault and within seconds was able to recover the emails in question. It was able to produce the email that showed the claim had been approved. The result: the hospital saved $800,000 it would have had to pay if the email could not be produced.

3. Where is the Team Love?

As a C-level executive, one of Joe’s tasks is to inspire company employees and to “be in touch,” so he often calls periodic Friday morning coffee chats with his team. He wondered why no one had joined him this morning. That’s when he found out that email was down. Productivity score: 0.

Email is a vital component of enterprise workflow and corporate productivity. Particularly in the BYOD era, employees will often send emails on various devices, in disparate locations. Some of Joe’s team, in fact, works remotely so email is a critical part of communication. Email that was archived correctly, with advanced search and find capability, could have saved Joe’s team members hours of valuable time – time they could have spent thinking strategically and moving to a purchase decision.

4. Our Employees are in the Dark, Data That Is

Kathy, your CEO, is a fast-moving executive that demands to be a step ahead of the competition at all times. When the company’s email went down, Kathy learned the hard way how dependent her marketing and development teams were on email and how much of their intellectual property was flying back and forth between the office and mobile devices. She also learned that your organization’s email solution was very weak in search and find capabilities and, as a result, housed a substantial amount of “dark data.” All of this came to a head when a competitor leaked a new product introduction and Kathy’s executive team could not respond quickly with a cogent analysis or plan. Dark data is defined by Gartner “as the information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes (for example, analytics, business relationships and direct monetizing).”[1]

Commvault Simpana software would enable Kathy and your company to search, understand and govern the vast amount of competitive, but unstructured, dark data housed via email and other messaging platforms. It would give every employee the means to search and access valuable data that would help them better plan their next line of attack.

5. Data Gridlock: Do You Want Your Data to Look Like Rush Hour Traffic?

Jim is an IT administrator you recently hired to be responsible for email operations. He had just settled into his new office when the company system went down. While working to quickly find out the issue and get the system back up, he discovered, while talking to his new team, that as much as 70% of stored data had basically little or no business value to the organization, and a considerable amount of this data was in email and other messaging files. Since you hired Jim to be in charge of streamlining the email operation overall and increasing efficiency, he identified that the company did not have software in place to undo what was essentially data gridlock.

Simpana software is the solution to gridlock: it enables administrators such as Jim to set content-based retention policies, thus controlling data sprawl, reducing costs and optimizing storage for data that has real business value or compliance implications.

Email Won’t Get Better On Its Own

In the State of Pennsylvania government, some five million emails pass through the 47 agencies in just one week. Pennsylvania is now actively looking for an email archiving system. Government is facing the same issues as private enterprise: the need to get far tighter control over what files are kept, which can be discarded and which need to be kept for legal and compliance issues. There is also the need for greater collaboration and transparency among government agencies, and in enterprises, across the organization, so that departments can work together and interact at a much higher strategic level. Quite simply, departments and their IT support need to agree on what data is important, what needs to be available for eDiscovery and what brings strategic business value to the enterprise.

Simpana software provides the technical solution so that this inter-departmental transparency can occur, delivering the logic, policy control and workflow efficiency to manage the ever-increasing flow of data, a substantial portion of which is housed in email.

We can do it! Let’s eliminate the American Data Horror Story from our enterprises!


[1] Gartner Inc. Innovation Insight: File Analysis Innovation Delivers an Understanding of Unstructured Dark Data, Alan Dayley, March 2013

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