Avoid Costly Email Migrations Pitfalls with Archiving Solutions

Moving email from legacy archive platforms can be the biggest obstacle when considering new, next-generation solutions. There are many configuration and performance challenges when moving from one archive to another, and migrations can be very costly.

However, there are options that can make migration easier and less costly that many organizations don’t always take into consideration. Questions to ask yourself about the use of email archives and its business impact include:

  • Do you have active legal holds in the current archive solution?
  • Do end users have search access to the archive?
  • How often are e-discovery or internal discovery searches performed?
  • What is the average time frame or history that discovery searches require?

Most email migration conversations start with the entire archive; however, the entire archive may not have to be migrated. Start with the most important use case to the business and interview users from internal business units such as legal, compliance or human resources. Determine the average end-user access to the archive and history that would be required to meet current expectations.   

If no compliance use case exists and end-users don’t have access to the legacy archive, it may be possible to switch to a new archive without any migration. Sunsetting or isolating the legacy archive solution for the remaining retention term—which lets items cycle out over time until the solution is no longer needed—may cost much less than the migration.

On-Premise Legacy Archive Solutions

For legacy on-premises solutions, consider dropping yearly support costs and move to an event support option. After all, if the legacy environment is frozen in time, no additional data is being added and the system isn’t being updated, what value would the yearly support contract provide? There are usually support alternatives that allow for a single support call at a predetermined cost if needed in the future.

Even when end-users do have access and self-service restore is available with the legacy solution, why move the entire archive? Consider migrating the last year of data to provide a robust end-user search, then leave the rest in the legacy solution to cycle off. If older items are needed, they can reach out to IT. Most end-user restore activity happens within 30 days with a small percentage continuing to the 90 days period. After 90 days, end-user search and access are almost nonexistent. Some activity does pick up on the year mark when users search for the report or email they sent last year on a similar subject. After a year, end user search of items is rare and, in most cases, end users do not have enough interest to even place an IT request for its recovery.

Use Cases for Compliance or Legal

When compliance or legal use cases are under consideration, evaluate past search requests and the history required to comply. For instance, how far back in history does a normal discovery event require? Use the typical time frame as a target for migration, knowing that the legacy archive is still available if the request goes back further. Legal holds can be either left in the legacy archive or migrated to make sure the legacy archive can cycle off as retention requirements are met.

Cloud-to-Cloud Migrations Are Costly

Cloud-to-cloud migrations are typically the costliest due to vendor data hostage scenarios in which they penalize the customer for leaving. Not only can they cost more, they usually require more effort and time to migrate.


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