Information Governance

IT investment into software and hardware inevitably fluctuates over time. This has been the case in recent years, with many organisations having to choose carefully what to invest money in, and what to perhaps leave behind, running an older version of some software, or on an older hardware platform.   This doesn’t just relate to money/cash investment, but also investment of time, training and people-expertise.  More and more organisations are discovering a scarcity of these resources.

Many organisations can no longer have experts in:

-    Exchange
-    Active Directory
-    Networking
-    Enterprise Vault
-    SQL Server
-    Client Operating Systems

… and so on.

Each of these areas of expertise is growing broader all the time. And the speed that these technologies change seems to never slow down, people can’t be an expert in more than one field, nor can they keep up to date with their expertise that easily.

So what happens if Enterprise Vault investment is left behind?

What happens if investment in other areas continues, whilst the investment in Enterprise Vault is lessened?

This can have many consequences that begin to snowball, and lead to other problems; just a few of them are described below:

New Features Missed

With each service pack and major release of Enterprise Vault there are new features added to the product.  Some of these features are ones which may only assist administrators, whilst others are ones which impact end-users, and we all know how demanding they can be!  As an example Enterprise Vault 11 brought with it a brand new search interface, and the all important ability to have an archive appear in many different clients, using the IMAP features. Another example is that Enterprise Vault 10 brought a 64 bit indexing engine.

If upgrades aren’t performed on the environment these new features will not be available to users, or administrators alike.

Investigation of Problems is more difficult

Support and knowledge of Enterprise Vault is always moving on.  It could be that if an issue appears on an old version of Enterprise Vault troubleshooting that issue, and finding out how to fix it will get more difficult as people who ‘know’ about the old versions gradually forget their old knowledge. 

It’s a similar situation with the Symantec Connect Forums and for Symantec Support.  People in those areas are busy learning and working with the new features, and gradually have less knowledge, and available environments to research and review old(er) issues.

It might also be that the issue that has been encountered is fixed in a newer version of the product.

Planning for future storage is left behind

Storage is one of the things that needs to be constantly monitored in an Enterprise Vault environment. There are still many organisations who do not expire old data, and therefore need more and more storage over time.

Well, the storage that was first added to the environment some years ago may no longer be sufficient for future needs, and supporting and maintaining it will become more costly.  Of course moving it to a newer storage platform is also an expensive operation!

Incompatibilities start to emerge

Staying on an old version of Enterprise Vault will eventually start to show incompatibilities in the environment. For example there might be a push to move to a new storage platform, which the old version of Enterprise Vault does not support.  There might also be a move to move upwards in terms of the underlying Microsoft Exchange environment, and this may lead to problems such as realising that Enterprise Vault 9, doesn’t work with Exchange 2013 (for example).

Questions about compatibility often appear in the Symantec Connect Forums and Symantec do a great job of maintaining the Compatibility List. That being said it is still often a surprise or shock to administrators to realise that their new Exchange 2013 environment can not be archived by old versions of Enterprise Vault.

What happens next?

What happens when an organisation gets to the point where they are stuck on an old version of Enterprise Vault, perhaps 3 or 4 versions behind the current release, and have to update?

It’s at this point when real expertise might be needed. How can an organisation that has reduced investment in this area expect to be able to upgrade from EV 2007 all the way through to EV 11? What if the storage has reached end of life, and needs to be swapped to something new?
There are consultancies, many of them partners of Symantec, that can be called upon to help address this type of issue. They can do a great job of going through a process of analysing the whole environment and figuring out what needs updating to what version, and in which order, in order to get to the end goal.

There are also third party software products like Archive Shuttle, and others, that can be used to ‘jump’ directly from an environment running an old version of Enterprise Vault like EV 8 up to EV 11 in one go, without going through the multiple upgrades that are required.

Which route your organisation goes for is not an easy choice and one which should be made after careful consideration and discussion with experts and vendors alike.

Has your organisation had to jump through different versions of Enterprise Vault? How was the project tackled, how long did it take, and was it successful? Let me know…

 

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