I am already using Office 365 on the cloud, do I still need a separate email archiving solution?

I am already using Office 365 on the cloud, do I still need a separate email archiving solution?

Why moving to Cloud Email is good?

We have been consistently speaking about the benefits to the customer of moving from on premise setup to a cloud email service. Customers, moving to a cloud email platform like SkyConnect, Office 365, Google’s G Suite etc. are free from the relentless work required to keep an on premise mail setup running. It frees you from stressing about infrastructure issues, software upgrades, planning and provisioning for disaster, security, data backup, manpower and more.

But, office 365 Cloud Email and its ilk may not be a panacea for all ills

While cloud mail solutions cover a lot of ground, customers of cloud email services we’ve spoken to, have expressed concerns about the inbuilt archiving system. Concerns regarding the features not being easy, not doing enough to meet compliance needs, and having limited eDiscovery capabilities. In addition, difficulties in extracting large volumes of data are challenging, with not enough protection from loss of email data; either malicious removal or accidental loss only adds to the woes. Increasing regulation, incidences of litigation, and operational needs, further fuel these concerns. Thus, making it necessary to have immutable storage of email data, along with speedy, accurate and complete access to it. As email moves to the cloud, organizations must remember that it’s their data and they should consider how to appropriately protect and exercise control over their data. The responsibility of safeguarding their data ultimately is theirs.

So what are the key considerations of archiving mail from any cloud based email.

When choosing a cloud email archiving solution for cloud email services such as SkyConnect, Office 365 cloud email, Google Apps (Now G Suite) etc, we advise that you consider the following:

1. Is your email data immutable by default?

A COPY of every mail sent and received should be automatically captured and stored by default. An archive store of a cloud email archiving solution, by default should be immutable and secured by strong access rights. This ensures that the data cannot be deleted, until the retention period ends. The most suitable cloud email archiving solution, will store an independent and SEPARATE copy of all the email data in a facility outside of the operational cloud email infrastructure. Let’s understand why the ‘legal hold’ feature offered by some cloud email services in not enough. The inbuilt archive system providing a ‘legal hold’ option is an ‘in place archive’, providing just another view of the existing mailbox. They are not SEPARATE copies of the email. This means that the Legal Hold option, when switched ON for certain users, is simply meant to preserve data for a period of time (to probably handle an investigation or legal case that is ongoing or may come-up during a fixed duration) and is not really meant to be a long term immutable archive store. The litigation or legal hold is not automatically deployed on mailboxes. It is a conscious decision on the part of the management to switch this on for certain users. Mailboxes not on hold, can be tampered with.

2. Is your email data easily retrievable?

Consider this: You accidentally deleted some or all of your mail (or your account was hacked deleting all emails). The most suitable archive platform for such a scenario, is to have all your data in an immutable archive store, irrespective of what has transpired on the primary mailbox. It will also allow you to retrieve all the stored data so you can rebuild your primary mailbox. Being able to do so easily is a great productivity booster. If the same level of recoverability has to be achieved with the in-place archive feature, then mailboxes will have to be put on legal hold from the start. A side effect of this would be that a user would not be able to delete any mail, leading to bloated primary mailboxes. Needless to say, this is a productivity killer.

3. Can you run deep searches and analysis across mailboxes without hampering the performance of your primary platform?

There is an explosion in the storage required by enterprises towards meeting stricter regulations and to provide historical data in case of disputes & litigation. Generally companies maintain a typical period of 7+ years, over which the historical data must be maintained. The growth in mailboxes sizes can severely compromise productivity, due to difficulties in locating relevant information. A cloud email archiving solution such as Vaultastic, creating separate copies of the mail exchanges can help reduce the size on the primary or active mail boxes. Vaultastic helps by archiving Office 365 mailboxes (and other email servers), and providing for an immutable, long term and high durability store of all the historical data for recovery, compliance and eDiscovery. Searches, analysis, data movement can be more freely executed on the COPY of the mail box, without causing disruption or impacting performance of the active mailbox.

4. How difficult is it to serve request for Historical data? Does your system offer a DIY interface?

Employees are increasingly using Office 365 cloud email and the ilk as their primary mechanism to share and access important information. IDC says 60% of business critical information is stored, sometimes exclusively, in Email. While, Gartner estimates that by 2019, 75% of organizations will treat archive data, including email, as an active data source. A quick analysis of our helpdesk for our cloud email service, shows that a good number of requests relate to locating and/or recovering historical mail (a few mails or the entire mailbox). This can severely load the enterprise IT team if, the archive system is not equipping users with a self-service feature to search through their own archive store and recover their own mail.

5. Do you have an option to maintain the historical data of employees who are no longer with you?

In most cloud email platforms, if an employee leaves your organization, you have two options to maintain their information. a. Download all their mail and store it in a local archive, and then delete the user. b. Deactivate the user, deploy a legal hold and maintain the information on the primary email platform. The problems with (a) are the same as storing data in premise – ensuring safety, security and accessibility over time. The problems with (b) are the cost of maintaining an inactive account (often similar to the cost of a live mailbox). A cloud email archiving solution such as Vaultastic allows you to pack off the data of inactive users, into an inactive archive. In addition, Vaulastic provides guaranteed availability at a reduced price, to be used on demand for knowledge discovery, analysis etc.

6. Is your email archive data getting splintered?

Consider this: When companies grow through acquisition and mergers, it may find the individual companies in the group using different email systems. One could be Archiving office 365 mailboxes, the other could be on the G Suite platform without any archiving. Consolidating all the mailboxes onto one platform can be very challenging and disruptive. It would be easier to have all the email data from disparate email platforms, archived to one central archive store, thereby bringing greater control and preparing the grounds for future mailing system consolidation. You now have access to the entire information via a uniform, standard interface and can comfortably service compliance, recovery or discovery requests. All this without working your way through the vagaries of so many platforms and fragmented data.

7. Are you locked into your email vendor?

A cloud email solution offers an inline archive, where it stores primary and archived mailboxes in the same single environment. Thus making it more difficult to switch to another email environment or use tools offered by others – essentially leading to a vendor lock-in. Getting data IN is quite easy and builds up over time, but when you need to change your mail platform, you need to extract all the information in a short span of time, which makes it very challenging. Therefore storing archived email data in a separate platform and location, supports not just compliance and regulatory requirements, but also frees you from getting locked-in to a particular mail platform.


In conclusion, migrating your email to the cloud is a good move, covering a lot of ground. However, we feel businesses will need to purchase a third party cloud email archiving solution to offset the shortfalls outlined above and create a stronger solution. To recap, ensure that the email archiving solution you choose: a. Stores the email data in a SEPARATE IMMUTABLE store b. Gives CONTROL to the owner of the data with easy data extraction on demand c. Provides AUTOMATIC and seamless archiving of mails with no need for manual intervention d. Allows end users to access a safe, secure, SELF SERVICE PORTAL (DIY) to search and recover their own mail

Why Vaultastic is the ideal email archiving solution across many different email services:

Vaultastic works seamlessly with services such as G Suite and Office 365. This creates a strong value proposition, and ensures long term email data security. – ARCHIVE FROM ANYWHERE -supporting archiving from almost any email platform. Thus allowing a centralized sync from disparate and spread out systems – Separate store from your operational email platform, with guaranteed HIGH DURABILITY – SELF SERVICE PORTAL to empower users to access their own archive accounts, securely and safely. – Safe, Secure, Read only storage, with no delete option at all, making the data IMMUTABLE – EASY DATA IN and EASY DATA OUT with selective Export, full export and a complete data dump using Snowball (for humongous data sizes) – Flexible pricing with mixed plans within your purchase, this means you pay only what you need and consume.

About Vaultastic

Vaultastic is the easiest – most secure cloud email archiving solution yet. Vaultastic helps your business with all eDiscovery, Compliance and Business Continuity needs. AWS data centers securely store all email data ensuring 99.99999999999% data durability. In addition, assuring protection against service outage, data loss or corruption. Also in the process, providing an alternate site for backing up your critical data. Vaultastic works seamlessly with G Suite, Office 365, MS Exchange, Zimbra, cPanel, MailEnable, Postmaster and other email solutions. (A slightly different variation of this article has also appeared in SiliconIndia Magazine’s July 2017 edition.)

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