Explore the IBM Mail Management and Compliance Solution

Dive deep to discover the features, benefits, and value of DB2 CommonStore

As a core component of the IBM Enterprise Content Management Portfolio, DB2® CommonStore provides advanced archiving capabilities to deliver an immediate return on investment. CommonStore relieves processing and storage load on Lotus® Domino® and Exchange Server by providing policy and ad hoc archiving of mail content into cheaper, centralized storage facilities. This article explores the value proposition of the IBM mail archiving solution, the extensibility of the infrastructure to support records management/compliance, and how IBM weaves together content management, storage management, and records management into a powerful enterprise solution.

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Wayne W. Yung (wyung@ca.ibm.com), Content Management Technical Specialist, IBM, Software Group

Wayne Yung photoWayne Yung is an IBM Enterprise Content Management Technical Specialist and a certified AIIM ECM Practitioner, DB2 Content Manager Solution Designer, and DB2 Content Manager OnDemand Solution Expert. He currently operates out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Special thanks to Robert Nonnenkamp (IBM Product Introduction and Exploration) and Dr. Reinhold Engelbrecht (IBM Content Management Worldwide Support) for their assistance in the editing of this document.



22 September 2005

Introduction to mail archiving

Nearly everyone in the modern world contributes to the pandemic growth of email volume over the past decade. It began as a novel communications medium, bridging traditional social, political, and geographical barriers, and ushering in a new age of real-time written communications. Email is to written mail as voice telecomm has been to Morse code. Its impact is staggering, redefining the evolution of business, and quickening the pace of global information sharing.

Its rise to power, however, has ushered in a new era of malaise, as email volumes have grown substantially over the past several years. A study conducted by the Radicati Group in 2004 revealed astonishing figures:

  • In 2004, total messaging volume grew by 35 percent to a claimed 76.8 billion messages per day.
  • In 2004, the average corporate user received 94 emails a day, up from 81 the year before.
  • The average user sends 34 emails every day and receives 99 emails every day, which translates to a hefty 14.7 MB of email data per day, a 53 percent growth over last year.
  • In 2004, the global number of email users grew 15 percent to reach 651 million.

Source: The Radicati Group, January 2005, www.radicati.com

With such staggering growth, the burden of managing this email has befallen the domain of Internet Service Providers and corporate IT departments.

For a variety of reasons, however, true management of email volumes has been neglected until only recently. Temporary patch solutions, including purchasing faster CPUs, upgrading mail servers, and increasing storage capacity, are not always cost-effective. And while these band-aid solutions may temporarily cure the symptoms, they certainly don't cure the disease.

The pandemic worsens when one considers that, beyond traditional volume management are growing regulatory obligations -- a responsibility that quickly becomes insurmountable if a clear vision for compliance has not been firmly established.


Defining the problem

The challenge of mail archiving is that while it bridges communications barriers, it also bridges corporate responsibilities. From an organizational standpoint, a true solution to the problem requires a vital understanding of the business impact of email, but more importantly -- albeit often ignored -- its technological and regulatory impact as well.

It has long been accepted that the requirements of end users drive the evolution of software, and in this case, the old adage rings true. Users like, perhaps even need, to keep mail in their inboxes because they are productivity/collaboration tools. They are the organizers of the modern employee. Perhaps most importantly, they are business e-records: intellectual property essential to corporate processes that must be catalogued at all costs. This recognition has prompted software development firms to rethink their understanding of traditional mail archiving requirements.

These requirements are explored in-depth below.

Technical requirements

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First and foremost, a mail archiving solution must solve the technical issue at hand: to reduce the overwhelming burden of email volume in the corporate environment. Quite simply, if you reduce the volume of mail on the messaging server, backup times are reduced, mail infrastructure is simplified, and disk storage is optimized. System performance may even be improved to the point where mail server consolidation is possible. This obviously requires that an archiving solution offer seamless integration with popular messaging platforms.

Reducing the volume of emails from the mail server, however, is only a small part of the solution. Equally important is determining where to house off-loaded emails. Moving mail from one storage medium to another (in this case from production disk to archive disk) simply shifts the problem dynamics. A mail archiving solution should ideally optimize the location of these mail objects, allowing you to place them alongside other enterprise data to leverage existing disaster recovery, archive, and backup services. Older mail targeted for archival should presumably have lowered performance requirements, and so the solution should allow for usage of slower, near-line or even off-line media as well.

Flexibility in determining what to archive, and when to archive, is also critical to the technical community. A solution that forces a particular archiving activity, such as deleting an entire email and forcing its migration into an independent archive, is certainly far from ideal. Considering that the cheapest, lowest-resistance archiving strategy is an attachments-only policy, it becomes obvious that a mail archiving solution should have flexible and dynamic archiving options.

To address these requirements, a variety of key features were included in the IBM solution, including: seamless Lotus Domino and Exchange Server integration, hierarchical storage management (HSM), data compression based on open standards, single-instance-storage (SiS), advanced text search support, granular archiving options, and integrated backup/recovery.

Business requirements

While a technically sound solution aims for optimal elegance and efficiency, a mail archiving solution must also solve the financial problem: to reduce the cost of mail volume while maintaining user satisfaction. A pessimist may argue that the best archiving solution is a strict deletion policy, or an aggressive enterprise quota. While this may solve the financial and technical problem defined herein, it certainly does not consider the end user's reluctance to accept such a solution. While an aggressive IT-driven quota arguably solves the problem from day one, it requires forcing end-users into submission: an activity that lowers satisfaction and consumes productivity as knowledge workers scramble to minimize their mailbox size.

The aggressive quota solution also divulges another flaw: email retention. As much as mail volume is a burden to the modern corporation, it is also a productivity tool. Valuable intellectual capital is stored in each and every user's mailbox. Implementing an aggressive quota is akin to disposing of this valuable asset. One alternative would be to keep all email, but as a reader of this article, you probably find it obvious why that is not a solution either.

The solution that makes the most business sense is one that minimizes costs, retains intellectual capital, while maximizing return on investment. It would also make sense that the solution would utilize existing IT investments, such as storage infrastructure or existing IT data centers (such as an enterprise content repository), to further minimize costs and maximize benefits.

So with the financial benefits aligned, the other facet of the problem lies in user acceptance. A mail archiving solution that is IT-friendly has not traditionally been user-friendly. The example of an aggressive IT-driven quota may seem unpalatable to most users who are unfamiliar with the concept, but when users are exposed to it early on, they are less likely to perceive such a mail archiving solution as abrasive. However, to be palatable to users of all types, a mail archiving solution should be as transparent as possible. Even when transparency is not possible, the interface to the archived emails should be streamlined and intuitive.

The IBM solution aims to meet these business requirements through unparalleled support of industry standard storage devices (using Tivoli Storage Manager), an optional policy-driven and touchless implementation, as well as multiple archive repository options, including DB2 Content Manager and DB2 Content Manager OnDemand.

Regulatory requirements

With technical and business interests aside, regulatory compliance is the next most dominant driver of a mail archiving solution. In recent studies conducted by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management, www.aiim.org), 100% of the organizations surveyed use email as a means of conducting business. While that is an indicator of the pervasive and successful penetration of electronic messaging as a communications medium, it also brings into focus the fear of undisciplined use. In the past decade, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of regulations established by governing bodies to dictate proper business etiquette over mail management, including lifecycle, retention, supervision, and discovery. More than one governing body has already implemented significant fines on public organizations that, either by choice or by indifference, have elected to ignore electronic messaging regulations.

While governing bodies are finding ways to monitor and regulate emails, software vendors are scrambling for ways to meet those regulations quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. Despite variations in regulatory requirements from body to body, the underlying message is clear: retain pertinent emails for the correct amount of time, and in the event of litigation, be able to produce those emails as quickly as possible.

This challenge is compounded when an organization already has a non-compliant mail archiving solution in place. As technical and business requirements have dictated, many organizations feel a pressing need for archiving that may lead them to procure a solution early on. It is therefore critical that a mail archiving solution allow for an easy, streamlined upgrade path for meeting regulatory requirements in the future for organizations facing this dilemma.

The IBM solution aims to meet these regulatory requirements through add-on, day-forward Records Management integration, support for Enterprise Archive repositories, add-on Discovery and Supervision modules, as well as built-in retention management.


Executive solution overview

In tackling the technical, business, and regulatory requirements, IBM has architected a solution that first addresses technical and business pains (the IBM Mail Management Solution) while easily extending the capabilities of the solution to address regulatory pains (the IBM Mail Compliance Solution).

Architecturally, the IBM Mail Management Solution consists of 3 core components:

  • The mail archiving application serves as a conduit between the mail server and archive repository. This application is called DB2 CommonStore. A version also exists for Lotus Domino and Exchange Server users.
  • The mail archive repository serves as the datacenter for archived messages. This application can be DB2 Content Manager, DB2 Content Manager OnDemand, or Tivoli Storage Manager.
  • The mail storage infrastructure serves as the physical storage medium for archived content.

Figure 1, below, depicts a high-level architecture diagram of the IBM Mail Management Solution. Note that a version of CommonStore exists for SAP, however its capabilities are beyond the scope of this article.

Figure 1. Mail archiving solution components
Mail archiving solution components

As a proponent of componentization and the services oriented architecture approach, the IBM Mail Compliance Solution leverages much of the same infrastructure described above. While it certainly reduces development expenses, it also minimizes the number of distinct solutions required. Furthermore, for an organization already using the IBM Mail Management Solution, the unique value of a componentized solution is the ability to perform a straight-line upgrade: regulatory compliance features can be added without a costly data migration. This is a distinct, on-demand benefit of component re-use.

The IBM portfolio includes two solutions for email regulatory compliance. Both applications are direct upgrades to an IBM Mail Management Solution. The first is DB2 Records Manager integrated with DB2 CommonStore, which this article explores below. The second, iLumin Assentor integrated with DB2 CommonStore (otherwise known as Content Management for Message Monitoring and Retention, abbreviated as CM4MMR or simply MMR), is beyond the scope of this article.

Architecturally, an IBM Mail Compliance Solution adds a 4th component to the core Mail Management Solution.

  • The mail archiving application -- DB2 CommonStore, re-used from the Mail Management Solution.
  • The mail archive repository -- a component re-used from the Mail Management Solution. In a Mail Compliance Solution, only DB2 Content Manager may be deployed here.
  • The mail storage infrastructure -- another component reused from the Mail Management Solution.
  • The records management engine and enabler -- DB2 Records Manager, a records management engine, is integrated with the DB2 Content Manager repository. The DB2 Records Manager Enabler is then deployed on the messaging clients. The enablers are utilized to declare email records from directly within the clients, which communicate directly with the records management engine to file, retain, and secure a declared email.

Figure 2, below, depicts a high-level architecture diagram of the IBM Mail Compliance Solution. The solution features direct, out-of-the-box integration with IBM's enterprise records management engine, DB2 Records Manager.

Figure 2. Mail Compliance Solution components
Mail Compliance Solution components

The following sections explore the benefits of each respective solution.


IBM Mail Management Solution benefits

Summary of IBM Mail Management Solution benefits

  • Desktop application integration
  • Granular archiving options
  • Mail server transparency
  • Multiple repository options
  • Storage and backup infrastructure friendly
  • Simple administration
  • Enterprise accessibility

Understanding any mail archiving solution is a critical first step in determining whether a product is the right fit for an organization. The goal of this section is to explore this challenging task, and present the value of the IBM solution.

Desktop application integration

DB2 CommonStore provides a clean, seamless interface integrated with both Notes and Outlook end-user applications. To enable this advanced functionality, DB2 CommonStore for Lotus Domino ships with an archiving-enabled template that, with the exception of an added CommonStore button (shown in figure 3), is aesthetically identical to the standard Notes R5/R6 template. This button enables users to perform interactive archiving, search, and retrieve tasks from directly within their mailbox views. Another desirable benefit of a template-based implementation is that a variety of deployment options are available. One such option includes touchless archiving and retrieval, which executes archive and retrieve tasks transparently, without user interaction. Since any customization takes place on the Domino Template, all the functions described above are possible without installing code on the client workstation.

Figure 3. CommonStore for Lotus Domino's optional desktop interface
CommonStore for Lotus Domino's optional desktop interface

Similarly, DB2 CommonStore for Exchange Server ships with an Outlook extension which provides a snap-in toolbar (shown in figure 4) to enable interactive archive, retrieve, and search functionality. To maximize transparency, policy-based archiving does not necessarily require this extension to be installed on the client workstation.

Figure 4. CommonStore for Exchange Server's optional desktop interface
CommonStore for Exchange Server's optional desktop interface

Granular archiving options

A mail archiving solution should conform to an organization's needs, not vice versa. DB2 CommonStore for Lotus Domino and Exchange Server allow administrators to define granular archiving policies, specifying:

  • What documents to archive -- This selection is based on criteria such as the size of the email, age of the email, and so forth. Criteria may also be compounded together to maximize versatility.
  • How to archive -- An email can either be archived in its entirety, body and attachments, or attachments only.
  • What to delete -- Both mail and attachments that have been archived can be replaced with a stub, deleted from the mail file entirely, or left untouched. Stubbed attachments can also be replaced with a hyperlink to access the object from within the repository.
  • When to perform archiving -- This can be either in real time, or queued for end-of-day processing. In a queued processing setup, you can designate a specific duration for archiving. By default, the archiving process will never exceed the provided timeslot (thus minimizing disruption to the production mail server).
  • Whom to apply archiving policies to -- Users and user group definitions in CommonStore for Lotus Domino/Exchange integrate with the Notes Address book (LDAP) and Active Directory respectively.

Mail server transparency

Message headers (containing inbox summary information, such as "to," "date," and "subject") can be retained for objects that have been archived by DB2 CommonStore. Once again, this feature minimizes disruption to the end user's day-to-day business activities. If an archived message is retrieved from the repository, DB2 CommonStore does not simply abandon the email and force the user to manually re-archive the message. Instead, it provides a powerful "re-stubbing" capability which seeks out and locates retrieved messages, removing them from the mail file after a configurable amount of time.

Multiple repository options

DB2 CommonStore was designed from the ground up to make use of an enterprise data storage and backup infrastructure. This maximizes efficiency by centralizing archived data, potentially leveraging an existing repository, as well as extending the value of an enterprise archive back end. As such, the application supports direct, seamless integration with three IBM repositories, each one imparting unique value to the Mail Management Solution.

  • Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) -- As IBM's Enterprise Storage Management software offering, Tivoli Storage Manager provides powerful backup, recovery, and high availability functions, including hierarchical storage management of archived mail content, as well as support for hundreds of industry-standard storage devices. When deployed with a TSM repository, the solution adds hierarchical storage management (HSM) to simplify storage infrastructure (by allowing content to migrate from one medium to another without user/administrator interaction), and data compression features to minimize storage consumption by compressing archived content. As TSM provides powerful backup/recovery tools, an IT organization will be confident knowing that its archived mail is safe.
  • DB2 Content Manager OnDemand (CMOD) -- CMOD is IBM's Enterprise Report Management (ERM) repository, providing powerful spool file archival and management of printed reports. The repository's unique storage architecture allows content to be stored in an optimal manner, minimizing fragmentation. Additionally, CMOD utilizes TSM beneath the covers, so this solution also benefits from HSM and data compression features. CMOD also provides a Web interface and a windowed interface as a means of searching and retrieving content directly from the repository. This adds significant value to a mail archive environment, as the content is accessible from a location beyond the confines of a mail client. This allows the transient intellectual capital stored within the message to be leveraged on an enterprise scale alongside scanned images or reports. Another functional advantage of deploying with a CMOD repository is that the application is highly scalable. The world's largest check archive runs Content Manager OnDemand and archives over 40 billion checks per year.
  • DB2 Content Manager (CM) -- As the primary backbone of IBM's Enterprise Content Management portfolio, this repository brings advanced content management functionality to a Mail Management Solution. Every application in the IBM ECM portfolio integrates with DB2 Content Manager due to its scalability, robustness, and market-leading technical functionality. With features such as advanced data models, text search, hierarchical folder structures, workflow, open API, and document management capabilities, the repository excels at adding structure to traditionally unstructured content (including, but certainly not limited to mail data archived via DB2 CommonStore). An important feature of deploying DB2 CommonStore with CM is the enablement of the Single-instance-Storage (SiS) feature. Via an intelligent hashing algorithm, SiS prevents duplicate copies of a mail object from being saved into the repository. If an email containing a 50 mb attachment for instance is sent to 50 people, the traditional Domino would save this message 51 times (once in the "sent" folder, and 50 times in each recipient's inbox). In the case of Exchange, the same mail is stored several times as well (once per mailbox store). With SiS, this object would only be saved once, maximizing storage efficiency.

Architecturally, CM is built on a multi-tiered architecture consisting of three core components:

  • Library Server -- Based on a relational database, the Library Server stores the indexing information pertaining to objects stored in the repository. This includes an object's metadata (which in the case of a mail object includes the "from," "to," "date," and "subject" lines), workflow, and any annotations, logs, or referential relationships that an object may have.
  • Resource Manager -- Objects loaded into the repository are stored in their native formats. The resource manager provides efficient storage of those objects by allocating the content to the appropriate storage medium, and by exercising advanced hierarchical storage management, compression, and backup technologies via an integrated instance of TSM. To support data migration and HSM, the Resource Manager performs the important function of tracing where an object resides -- whether managed on local disk, or transitioned to secondary storage.
  • Application Server -- The application server hosts the DB2 Content Manager application, web client, and Application Programming Interfaces (a rich set of open, published programming integration points mirrored in both Java and C++).

A strictly decoupled architecture allows each of the three components to be deployed in a multi-tiered environment. For instance, when a query is performed in CM for an email, the search and result set are the sole responsibility of the Library Server. Similarly, when a retrieve operation occurs, the retrieval is the sole responsibility of the Resource Manager.

An architecture diagram depicting the relationship between the components of DB2 Content Manager is shown in figure 5.

Figure 5. DB2 Content Manager architecture
DB2 Content Manager architecture

With its robustness, scalability, and advanced functionality such as SiS, DB2 Content Manager is the repository of choice in the IBM Mail Management Solution.

Storage and backup infrastructure friendly

Regardless of the chosen repository, DB2 CommonStore can utilize Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). From a business value standpoint, this allows you to exploit an Enterprise Storage Management application to its full potential as part of any IBM Mail Management Solution. Some of the many benefits of this infrastructure are hierarchical storage management, support for hundreds of industry-standard storage media, data compression, and advanced backup and recovery capabilities.

Emphasizing storage and infrastructure friendliness, TSM provides immediate support for hundreds of industry standard storage devices. (See Resources for a comprehensive list of such devices.)

Emphasizing backup and recovery, TSM operates in a fully integrated manner with DB2 CommonStore, DB2 Content Manager (CM), and DB2 Content Manager OnDemand (CMOD), to provide comprehensive backup of the mail solutions' infrastructure, metadata, and mail objects. For example, when deployed alongside CM, TSM can generate full or incremental backups of the relational database running on the Library Server, the objects stored on the Resource Manager, and the applications running on the Application Server. The backups can be stored on any supported storage medium, including disk, optical, or tape. Tape support in Tivoli Storage Manager is particularly strong, providing a feature known as tape reclamation (a streamlined means of handling incremental backups on tape to minimize wasted space).

Simple administration

Software administration is a key component of any enterprise software solution. IBM designed DB2 CommonStore as a mail archiving application that would be as easy to work with as the messaging environment it endeavors to archive. To this end, DB2 CommonStore for Domino is administered through a Domino database application, while DB2 CommonStore for Exchange Server is administered through a Microsoft Management Console snap-in -- interfaces that are familiar to administrators of each respective messaging platform.

To facilitate user administration, Domino Directory and Active Directory are also used pervasively as part of the solution. DB2 CommonStore for Domino and for Exchange use Domino Directory and Active Directory (respectively) for user and archive policy administration. Using these enterprise user directories reduces arbitrary administrative duties.

From a deployment perspective, the IBM Mail Management Solution is also designed to be as simple as possible. In the case of DB2 CommonStore for Lotus Domino, enabling end users on the application requires only a small change to the mail template. (If no customization is necessary, you can use the sample template provided with CommonStore.) Similarly, DB2 CommonStore for Exchange Server is deployed via a small-footprint application installed and integrated as a part of the Outlook Client. The IBM Mail Management Solution also supports the Web interfaces of these messaging platforms (iNotes and Outlook Web Access), allowing users to browse archived emails via URL links to the archive message object.

Enterprise accessibility

Although DB2 CommonStore may be deployed with only TSM as the backend archive, a unique feature of the IBM Mail Management Solution is the ability to use an Enterprise Content Management repository. This powerful deployment option allows the archiving environment to extend beyond a simple, limited-scale niche solution. Studies conducted by Gartner (www.gartner.com) and ZapThink (www.zapthink.com) have revealed that nearly 80% of an organization's content is unstructured, teeming with untapped intellectual capital. This capital, when mismanaged or neglected, becomes difficult to find, easy to lose track of, and nearly impossible to leverage across the enterprise. When you consider that email is simply another form of unstructured content, it becomes obvious that Content Management and mail archiving go hand in hand.

Recognizing the staggering impact of unstructured content, your IBM Mail Management Solution should include either DB2 Content Manager (IBM's enterprise content repository) or DB2 Content Manager OnDemand (IBM's enterprise report management repository). In both cases, the repositories are robust, proven infrastructures which serve to meet enterprise initiatives such as management of imaging, workflow, documents, and reports, but they truly shine when combined with DB2 CommonStore. While each repository provides unique value, both enhance email's enterprise accessibility. For instance, both repositories provide a Windows client and a Web client which facilitate fast search, retrieval, annotation, and management of the mail objects. This is particularly useful in the event that an employee leaves the organization, or when an email asset needs to be leveraged across an entire team: instead of moving the mail objects, it would be possible to access them from the repository clients.

One feature of DB2 CommonStore, known as component archiving, only becomes available to the IBM Mail Management Solution when deployed with DB2 Content Manager. Component archiving is particularly good at exploiting the features of an underlying enterprise content repository. It allows DB2 CommonStore to split an email that carries an attachment into its constituent parts: the mail body and the attachment(s). This allows a CM user to leverage the two entities as independent assets. When you consider that email is traditionally (and inefficiently) used as a vessel for collaboration, component archiving becomes a logical fit. Users would be able to extract an attachment from an email, and collaborate on the document via DB2 Content Manager's document management features (which include check-in, check-out, version control, simple to complex workflows defined using a graphical interface, granular access controls, and fully auditable history trails). Figure 6 below depicts DB2 Content Manager's graphical workflow interface:

Figure 6. DB2 Content Manager's graphical workflow
DB2 Content Manager's graphical workflow

If you need more advanced document management capabilities, such as publishing, rendering content into different formats, lifecycle management, and compound document support, you can add DB2 Document Manager as yet another module to extend the power of DB2 Content Manager.


IBM Mail Compliance Solution benefits

Summary of IBM Mail Compliance Solution benefits

  • Integrated user interface
  • Manual and automated classification
  • Flexible file plan
  • Enhanced data security
  • Simplified records administration
  • Engine-based architecture

The topic of compliance requires an intimate knowledge of the governing regulations that your organization needs to comply with. The full complement of DB2 Records Manager features in an enterprise records management scenario is beyond the scope of this article, but the benefits of DB2 CommonStore integrated with DB2 Records Manager from a messaging compliance perspective are summarized below.

Integrated user interface

Your users can declare an email as a business record simply with a slightly modified interface of their standard email client. This modified interface is provided out of the box by DB2 CommonStore integrated with DB2 Records Manager, and simply extends the interface discussed in the section above. In the case of the IBM Mail Compliance Solution, a checkbox indicates whether an email has been declared as a record. To maximize end-user acceptance, you can customize the indicator. Figure 7 illustrates the interface of Microsoft Outlook enabled with DB2 Records Manager.

Figure 7. CommonStore for Exchange Server's eRecords-enabled interface
CommonStore for Exchange Server's eRecord-enabled interface

Manual and automated classification

The IBM Mail Compliance Solution allows both manual and automated declaration or classification of emails. Declaring an email means a user can no longer delete it, and that the message is retained for a regulated amount of time. In the case of a manual declare, users simply click on the desired mail object and click on a "declare as record" button (provided as a part of a records-enabled DB2 CommonStore interface). The precise implementation of the declaration process is customizable. This can be a macro located on the application toolbar, or an option in a right-click menu. When a user clicks on the Declare as record button, a pop-up menu appears, prompting the user for information pertaining to the document (including what to classify the document as in order for the record to follow the correct file plan). In an auto-declare scenario, the solution allows a user to drag and drop an email into a folder, which would already have a file plan associated with it.

Flexible file plan

In records management, a file plan is the underlying structure upon which all record-keeping processes are based. It also associates a declared email with a specific retention and auditing rule. A records management application must allow a file plan to adopt the specific policies of an organization, not vice versa. The IBM Compliance Mail Solution file plan allows the solution to conform to a near infinite number of compliance scenarios. Its unique features include:

  • Support for physical and electronic records -- Although physical records are rarely a concern with a mail compliance environment, it should be noted that the IBM solution permits the declaration, classification, and management of the following entity types, stored in any document format (such as office document, spreadsheet, scanned image, and so on):
    • Documents -- individual documents or email messages that have been declared as a record.
    • Folders -- a folder of documents with individual documents within the folder may or may not be treated as independent records.
    • Boxes -- a box of typically paper documents, usually containing folders, which may be individually managed as records.
  • Exclusive relationships -- allows the records manager to tightly control growth the growth of a corporate file plan. When an option for a more specific file plan exists, this feature allows administrators to limit an object from being declared too far up in the file hierarchy.
  • Record sets -- permits related records to be grouped together based on arbitrary criteria, beyond the confines of those defined within a folder or document relationship. This allows an email record to be grouped with another document record without compromising each entity's retention and file plan characteristics.
  • Data input patterns -- allows the records manager to regulate the form and structure of a record's metadata by limiting the character values and lengths permitted in mandatory input fields.

Figure 8 depicts the advanced file plan structure of DB2 Records Manager.

Figure 8. DB2 Records Manager file plan
DB2 Records Manager file plan

Enhanced data security

DB2 Records Manager offers intrinsic flexibility in defining an overall document security and retention model. Some of the rich features of the solution are:

  • Granular user security levels -- Distinct levels of security may be applied to individual records, even specific metadata fields, depending on the user or user group.
  • Security descriptors -- This allows a records administrator to assign a supplemental descriptor, such as "Personal CEO's Message" to a record's metadata.
  • Advanced retention and disposal management -- Emails reaching end of life are disposed of individually and promptly, mitigating the risk of non-compliance. Review dates may also be scheduled prior to disposal, to ensure that a correct retention management scheme has been exercised, and the correct steps are taken prior to deleting a record.

Simplified records administration

Administration of electronic records in a large organization has traditionally been a formidable effort. The IBM Mail Compliance Solution assists in this task by providing numerous administrative features.

  • Comprehensive audit data -- One key to a successful records management solution is an auditable history trail. A full record of who accessed, modified, deleted, or manipulated the record in any way is logged in its entirety. Even activities pertaining to a record administrator's activities (such as examining a record, configuring a file plan, processing an audit trail) are audited to minimize risk of non-compliance.
  • Rich life cycle processing -- Flexible options include the ability to trigger phase transitions on any date field, on individual records, or on a group of records. Legal holds, temporarily suspending a record's life cycle, are also supported.
  • Automatic conflict detection -- In circumstances where a record is subject to conflicting retention rules, DB2 Records Manager will automatically detect and notify the administration of the conflict, to streamline its resolution.
  • Event Notification -- Allows an administrator to specify the delivery of an email from any search result (either from the records administrative interface, or another location programmatically) to the pertinent users when an event takes place.

Engine-based architecture

DB2 Records Manager is a records management engine, as opposed to a repository. It requires no end-user client installation, no migration of content off a record's host application, and no redundant components to the rest of the IBM Enterprise Content Management portfolio. This architecture allows a truly decoupled application environment, where DB2 Records Manager can be added to an IBM Mail Management Solution with minimal effort and no duplication of processing, administration, or data. The records engine, like DB2 Content Manager, provides a rich, published API set for customization and integration with any number of host applications. In the case of DB2 CommonStore, the integration point to the messaging clients is called the Records Manager Enabler, provided out of the box.


Conclusion

In the exploration of the technical, business, and regulatory requirements of the mail archiving space, it is critical to consider a solution's key features and whether those features meet your organization's archiving and compliance needs. Mail archiving, driven by storage costs and return on investment, is a major focal point in approaching a solution of this nature. However, the impact of the archiving solution with respect to an overall enterprise content management initiative, as well as support for a greater storage management and compliance infrastructure, are key to defining a project's success.

Unstructured content is clearly a valuable asset to an organization, and certainly, mail data is no different. Consider the intellectual capital stored within a typical business email, and decide if a niche archiving solution is sufficient to manage that data. The flexibility of an IBM solution is that it has been designed to meet immediate archiving needs, and it also has the potential to scale up to meet an organization's greater content, document, or records management needs when and if they arise. When considering a solution of this nature, ask the following questions: Will you need to leverage email as a form of unstructured data, or will a simple mail to secondary storage application suffice? Can you records-enable a solution without a costly migration, or will it require you to purchase and deploy redundant software components?

The goal of this article was to arm you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. IBM hopes that exploring the benefits of this Mail Management and Compliance Solution has empowered you for growth and success.

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SITE_ID=1
Zone=Information Management, WebSphere
ArticleID=94436
ArticleTitle=Explore the IBM Mail Management and Compliance Solution
publish-date=09222005