Archiving software helps surfside city save--messages and money

Archiving software helps surfside city save--messages and money

Oceanside, Calif., employees were spending an 'inordinate amount of time' processing public information requests, sometimes taking as long as a month or more to track down the information requested, Oceanside CIO Michael Sherwood says. Despite the labor costs incurred, the city would charge $2 or $3 in fees for the service. 'It was a huge expense,' he said.

Part of the problem was that the city didn't retain copies of every e-mail message it received. The city backed up its e-mail system once a day. 'If you received an e-mail message at 10 a.m. and then deleted it at 3 p.m., we would never back it up,' Sherwood said.

As Oceanside's attorney pointed out, this could expose the city to possible lawsuits.

Oceanside's IT Department decided to safeguard the city's electronic data and speed the handling of public records requests by installing Enterprise Vault content-archiving software from Veritas Software Corp. of Mountain View, Calif.

Since its installation four years ago, , Sherwood said. The saving was all the more pronounced during the November elections, when requests for public records increased by about 25, nearly double the usual 30, he said.

Enterprise Vault lets the city index and store all messages that come through the city's Microsoft Exchange e-mail system. A copy of each message is archived at the same time it is sent to the user.

Although Oceanside has about 1,000 employees, the city receives about 30,000 e-mail messages each day, Sherwood said.

'A lot of that is spam, but we have to archive our spam too,' he said. 'We use a spam filter, but once it gets through, we have to archive it.' The city's record retention policy requires that two years' worth of e-mail is stored online.

Enterprise Vault lets the city restore e-mail without calling in backup tapes, Sherwood said. 'When people lose important e-mail, they pray it was backed up overnight,' he said. 'Now we can restore your whole e-mail inbox if it crashes or if something happened to the e-mail server.'

One small regret Sherwood has is that he underestimated the city's e-mail usage. 'Because of the exponential growth of e-mail, we had to increase hard drive capacity,' he said. The system also had to accommodate an increase in large file attachments.

Oceanside spent about $25,000 on the Enterprise Vault software and the Dell Inc. server it runs on. It has paid for itself several times over in labor cost savings, Sherwood said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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