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Laying the groundwork for future email migration strategies

11 Aug 2015 by Cara Wilburn

Are you an email visionary?
Visionary. It’s not a word that normally springs to mind when discussing email, is it? Surely managing email is all about storage capacity, system functionality and keeping the lights on.

Look at this recent thread discussing Exchange mailbox sizes. One administrator comments dejectedly that “most people use email as a file server replacement,” before admitting he typically manages individual mailboxes of 50GB+ each. That’s live mailboxes, per person, run on site, not in archives. Ouch.

It’s little wonder so many unregulated organisations are considering Gmail or Office 365, where they can provide users with mailboxes as large as they want without having to keep creaking internal systems going. But is that just storing up trouble?

The ‘file server’ analogy is spot on. Many organisations use email as the default ‘database of record’. It provides an audit trail for correspondence and is used by many people as a quick way of accessing critical documents.

Email migration projects are an excellent opportunity to improve management of information, to rectify shortcomings in retention and compliance, to reduce cost, and to future-proof systems. But getting your migration wrong can be expensive, risks user business disruption, and can simply replicate bad practice into the cloud rather than on site.

A business-focused approach
Many agree the gap between IT leadership and business functions is shrinking. Computer Weekly cites Butler Group on this emerging role: “A specialist in the application of technology to the business, especially in the context of business processes and improving their efficiency”.

In the same article, Barbara Gomolski of Gartner, discusses characteristics of organisations where IT is “an enabler, a differentiator and a tool to introduce innovation into the organisation”. She highlights two specific traits that are especially relevant to the email conundrum. The organisation “will have outsourced much of its technology infrastructure and requires someone at the top to manage the portfolio of services, whether they are delivered by a third party or in house”. Also, it “may well be going through a period of business transformation, process standardisation and change”.

IT leadership in this context is about contributing to the organisation’s business strategy. It’s particularly about helping the business manage risk – of business interruption, of reputational damage, and of litigation for non-compliance.

As we’ve seen, an organisation’s email records are a single point of truth. When you take decisions about email, you’re taking decisions about the way you want to manage critical information. That’s why email platforms, archives and migration projects have to have a strategic, business-focused approach.

Migrate from anywhere to anywhere
At Quadrotech we’ve given these matters serious thought. Cloud is now a mature and trusted approach, but in many ways the manner in which data is used in the cloud remains very generic.

It’s clear data stored in the cloud will become more specialised, requiring more discrete solutions to be developed by service providers. Within the next three to five years we’ll see new models develop in a way that will particularly affect email usage and portability. Whenever you sign up with a cloud service you already need an exit strategy should circumstances change. That means looking at how you can ‘re-migrate’ whenever necessary.

Quadrotech solutions are developed with a clear roadmap to meet these future challenges. The aim is to make sure live mailboxes, local PST files and archives can be moved from any platform to anywhere else, at any time, safely and efficiently (we’re already the only migration software provider with integrated tools that address all three levels of this ‘triple stack’).

How can the right tools help?
With email migration the volume of information you’re dealing with really matters. There’s only so much data you can cram down a connection, and physically moving stuff can take a considerable time.

Take an Office 365 migration for example. For every 100GB of email data you transfer, the protocols used to wrap it mean that you typically end up sending nearer 300GB. Quadrotech’s Advanced Ingestion Protocol can already help considerably, and we envisage being able to reduce that to nearer 80GB in the not-too-distant future. We’re a Microsoft Gold Application Development Partner and in June 2015 were named by CIO Review as one of its most promising solution providers. August has also seen us promoted to Microsoft managed partner status demonstrating our commitment to the Microsoft ecosystem. This direct relationship means a great deal to us and gives us tremendous insight into Microsoft’s future plans.

I mentioned earlier the danger of replicating existing bad practice when migrating into the cloud. Some email migration specialists actually try to reduce the amount of data being transferred by setting aside all the duplicated and difficult stuff to be dealt with later. Our automated exception handling means everything can be dealt with at once. This intelligent management approach runs top-to-bottom through all our products, and it’s why we’re able to take the long view as new cloud email models evolve.

We develop Quadrotech tools not just for technical excellence but to support business-level migration both now and in the future. It’s a sound strategy, and we’re delighted that so many customers and channel partners want to be part of our vision.