Originating Author: David Vellante
E-mail archiving processes are evolving as are the roles and responsibilities of those involved in planning and executing systems to reduce corporate exposure and mine information as an asset. E-mail storage administration has been in react mode in recent months, especially as changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, adopted in December 2006, now force civil litigants to consider electronic evidence as part of the discovery process.
But as e-mail archives evolve from static (e.g. .pst repositories) to active (e.g. e-mail archives with relationships in tact) to active archives for other unstructured content, so too will storage administration evolve from reactive to proactive management of data. Tensions will undoubtedly escalate between different constituencies in the organization as this occurs. Specifically, while initially there is an alliance between IT and the legal function (serving legal, audit and compliance with sensitivity to business users) there is a clash looming between these constituents, records management and storage administration.
Indeed, as the records management function becomes more prominent, the desire to retain information will be counterbalanced with the need to eliminate information with certainty, reduce complexity and reclaim unused storage space. This re-emergent records management function will likely be responsible for establishing and enforcing policies around creation and management of classification metadata and migration, retention and deletion policies. As such, this new records management function will have a high degree of automomy but must work closely with both IT and business lines to address issues of information inflexibility, use and distribution.
Action Item: IT in general and storage administration in particular should recognize that they will be required to administer and ultimately integrate unstructured content archives broadly across the organization. Like other cross-functional, high technology-oriented but business-driven initiatives (e.g. disaster recovery), CIOs must ideally have direct reporting authority from or at least strong matrix influence over the policies, procedures and practices associated with e-mail and other unstructured content archives and should propose organizational structures that reflect these responsibilities. Records management is a vital part of this mosaic.