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Top 5 reasons on why it makes sense to deploy user agents for a PST migration project

Oct 3, 2016 by Stefanie Elvers

In my line of technical presales work, I often get asked whether it was possible to use the product fully without having to roll out an agent to the user base in order to discover all PST files, collect them to a central repository and migrate the desired content into Enterprise Vault or the respective Exchange/Office 365 archive mailbox.

The extra step of working with the SCCM or Altiris team seems to add additional complexity and time to a project and often, customers don’t know the benefits our approach affords them, which prompted me to write this blog post.Here are the top 5 reasons why I believe that deploying an agent is not only recommended but in fact essential for a successful PST migration or PST eradication project:1) User Access to PST

When using the agent, a snapshot of PST files attached to an outlook profile is taken and transmitted instead, ensuring that the user maintains their access to the data contained in the PST file for the duration of the project. The user can no longer add any new data to the PST file ensuring that all information is captured, however the PST file remains attached to the user’s Outlook profile, so that they can continue working without disruption. This also typically limits the number of tickets raised with the helpdesk.

2) User submitting PST files

If there was no agent deployed, you would have to get the user to detach PST files from their Outlook profile while they are connected to the company’s network. This may prove more difficult the larger the organization is, as many users may also need instructions on how to do so. It would also require a certain level of trust to ensure that all of those PST files are detached and submitted for the migration or eradication project.

3) User Communication and authorization gathering

Certain countries have regulatory requirements to seek authorization from their users in order to manipulate their personal data stored inside of PST files. With the help of the agent and our user communication engine, we can provide customizable pop-ups to the users which cannot be ignored, asking them to make decisions and give their approval to migrate the data. This can also be used to inform customers about further details of the project, provide downloadable guides to the new process or similar.

4) Network utilization

Due to the agent using the BITS protocol (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) and the collection typically happening at different times for different users (random to some degree), it is ensured that the network is not over-utilized and that users who disconnect their laptops while the upload occurs won’t have to start from scratch. When network connectivity is available again, it will just continue from the last check-point. This is especially important if users have quite large PST files that would fail a “traditional” copy over the network.

5) Security & Compliance

If no agent was deployed and both local hard drives as well as network drives need to be scanned, an account with sufficient permissions to access all user workstations and all potential network drives would need to be provided in order to scan for PST files within the environment. This, for most organizations, would pose a security and compliance risk that few would be willing to take.

Remember, it has taken your user community many years to create, maintain, and use PSTs as part of their daily workflow – this is not something that can be undone overnight without the proper planning, preparation, and tools.

Quadrotech started doing large-scale PST migrations back in 2006 with an agentless process, and quickly realized that the only way overcome the complexity of the process was to move to an agent-based technology.

This is why we made it easy to configure that agent according to each customer’s requirements. We can help specify which network drives should be scanned, we can help determine ownership of the PST file based on multiple criteria and ensure that the data is collected in an efficient and non-disruptive way, typically staggered, to avoid congestion.

So, you see how this initial work upfront (deploying a small agent) pays for itself in terms of the many benefits to the user community and for the IT staff running the project; the aforementioned reasons provide benefits in terms of user transparency, user mobility, easing the help desk burden, ensuring data security and privacy protection.