cloud email archiving for higher education

Having attended the The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA) Conference in Hobart this week, it’s becoming clear that IT decision-makers in higher education are thinking of how to use information technology in an intelligent way.

It’s no surprise when you think about the emerging trends in email for educational institutions outlined by AWS:

1. More information is being shared digitally

Higher education institutions struggle with compliance requirements as more information is being shared digitally. Knowledge management is a big issue with an impact on IT as well – they need to know their facts and find what they need quickly, especially to resolve disputes!

Ensuring the archival of email information sent to and from students and staff is important, especially with the emergence of distance education. Keeping tabs on the mailboxes of thousands of students and staff can be difficult without an archive that ensures the retention of every email. How do you enforce your email retention policy?

2. More mailboxes are moving to the cloud

Email compliance requirements make it difficult for schools and universities to cope with the amount of data that needs to be archived. The need to free up resources and time is the key reason they are more interested in outsourcing to the cloud, especially when it comes to non-critical IT issues such as email archiving.

According to a CDI survey taken back in 2010,

  • IT decision makers are interested in outsourced services because “those making IT support decisions at higher education institutions are most challenged by efforts to effectively manage resources dedicated to the needs of their constituencies while still maintaining focus on their organisation’s strategic initiatives.”
  • Half of survey respondents indicated that they already outsource to the cloud (with email being the most common service).

Most organisations are open to outsourcing as long as other internal decision-makers support the decision, and the external service provider can provide better or equal service than the institution can.

3. Messaging environments are increasingly hybrid

The most common messaging environment is where a select number of faculty staff are using an on-premise email system, while students and others are on hosted systems. Otherwise, the messaging environment in educational institutions is one of the following:

  • Dedicated mail system, where faculty/staff and students sit on the same system.
  • Hybrid type A, where faculty/staff are on-premise with system A, but students are on-premise with system B.
  • Hybrid type B, where faculty/staff are on-premise with system A, other faculty/staff are hosted with system B, and students are hosted with system C.

This is not ideal as email storage is more disparate and not easy to sift through.

Cloud-based email archiving to the rescue!

To solve the problem of hybrid messaging environments, educational institutions need a searchable email archive that:

  • Is platform agnostic (so that you can search the entire message store from a central repository)
  • Provides on-demand access (so that you don’t waste time sifting through various mailboxes and trying to figure out where everything is – this is particularly a problem in institutions using PST files)
  • Scales quickly to the amount of storage you need (so that you’re not faced with the problem of having to increase your mailbox storage limits)

eDiscovery and litigation requests need to be addessed no matter what email strategy you use, as long as the email archiving system can retain all email as well as search and retrieve what has been requested in legal discovery (in the time period requested).

Cloud-based email archiving is best suited to meet these needs. Like many organisations, technology to help facilitate the process. Educational institutions can gain the benefits of better email storage and knowledge management through cloud-based archiving.

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