Hierarchical Storage Architecture: Simple storage solution to mailbox bloat

Data Management I'm Exploring Vaultastic Videos Whiteboard

As part of our #whiteboardseries, we bring to you a series of short videos that we hope will help your organisation increase productivity and efficiency.

In the video above, we propose an easier, faster and durable way to keep primary mailboxes lean and safeguard any old mails, using a simple cloud backup/ archival solution.

In business, email still remains the primary form of communication. This can often lead to the mailbox size growing beyond control and interfering with performance.

In a bid to keep the mailbox size in check, companies often implement radical ways to manage data. This could be setting up a quota, reducing the mailbox size and forcing the user to delete mail or having the users download old mail on their personal devices.

These methods are not very safe or durable in the long run. They reduce or completely remove the access to old mails, that may be required as reference or evidence in case of litigation. Using the method stated in the video, you can now step away from these methods and adopt a better and more productive way of working.

Read a detailed blog on the working and benefit of adopting a hierarchical storage architecture.

Video Transcription

Good evening friends, welcome to this whiteboard series which we have started, the core idea behind this is to share some simple, scalable ideas which you can deploy to secure your email and manage your email data better.

So let’s get started with this one.

Here we are talking about a very simple idea, it’s called the hierarchical storage concept. So what is happening out here is, let’s describe the situation first.

Typical methods for managing mail box bloat

So we have a mail server, let’s imagine it to be your mail server, where you have mails flowing into the mail server and your users are sitting here and accessing those mail using Thunderbird or Outlook or any client, mobile client for that matter.

What is happening here is, in this situation, in this system is, more and more mails are coming in thanks to excessive digitization and email being used as a very primary notification mechanism, so these mails are coming and they are getting deposited into the users mailbox and it is bloating it up. Okay, this is just growing, there is no end to it.

So what companies are doing Today, the challenge they are facing is, to keep the performance of the mail server and the client in check. They are going in for solutions to delete these mails on a regular basis, so they would deploy a quota which limits the mailbox size, so the user is forced to delete mail alright, or they are putting in systems to delete mails automatically or they are suggesting to users to download mail to their local PC, using the local archive function of the client.

Now because of this bloat, if you look at this, the performance of the system degrades over time, parallely the size of the system grows over time, so this actually is not a very desirable situation and it is also making your IT team work very hard.

A better alternative

So we have a very simple solution to this. What we are saying is, put a retention period on the mailbox, make it lean. You lean out your mailbox, so you put a retention period of 3 months, it could be 3-6 months, something which maps your most frequent access period of your mail, of all your users, let’s assume 3 months.

So I would put a retention period on the server, which means that the mails would be automatically deleted from the server, anything older than 3 months would be automatically deleted from the server and this would lean out the whole system, and what would happen here is, it would make it a standard size, so over time, the size would still stay steady and obviously, this would also steady out.

So we have achieved an objective at this end where we have solved the problem of performance and without the end user having to do too much work. But, one problem still remains, these deleted mail are valuable, they will be required at some point in time, so how do we reconcile this?

So for this we have another add on to this, what we are saying is, while this system is automatically deleting and cleaning mail, we will have another system which will capture all the mail in another platform which is more scalable, so let’s connect the dots and see how it looks.

So this is how it starts, your mail comes, your mails are accessed by your end users, this is the original situation. All the frequent mail are available in this system, we have managed to achieve uniform size and uniform performance thanks to the retention period mechanism which we have deployed, but now for the mail which we want to retain, and which are being deleted, what we propose is, to divert a copy of every mail which is sent and received by every user into a parallel setup which is an archival platform so to say, this will be on the cloud.

Benefits of moving to cloud

Why cloud? because cloud has the capacity and the scale and the elasticity to be able to ingest the data and store it over the long term, no matter what size you give it and that is the reason why we are proposing, this should be a cloud platform, this could be anything, another cloud, or an in prem.

So all your mail go there, again the size goes on increasing, yes, but you will get uniform performance over time. What we have achieved here is, the recent mails are in this system, every other mail is in that system, and this user has got access to two mailboxes. So whenever he needs to access historical mail, he will log in to the archive platform, using the archive client and access the historical mail.

Now what have we achieved with this? This is a simple hierarchical storage architecture as we call it. So what we have achieved with this, faster clients, faster server, faster clients, alright.

A backup, of every mail which you are receiving and and sending, so that in case the user needs to ever retrieve and get back a mail, it will be available there and there will be no loss there.

Compliance, since you’e retaining the mail, right, for all the users in this platform, you can do an umbrella search and retrieve mail across all the users, so you’re also ready for compliance in one stroke. And safety, in this system, it can crash, it can fail, it may not have too much reliability, but your data is safe.

The cloud systems typically will give you very high durability, so you will manage to achieve the safety aspect as well. So a system like this, gives you these kinds of benefits, it simplifies your management here and also retains all your data safely.

Want an in-depth discussion?

Our archival experts are ready to talk to you, one on one to suggest archival best practices, to help you manage email storage better, learn how to make use of all the archived business email for business intelligence and stay ready for regulation compliance. Contact us today.


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