I'd like to start a conversation around archiving in Exchange.
We run about 160 Mailboxes in our Exchange Server. Our database is about 175GB. We are currently running 2007 Standard and are about to transition to 2010 standard.
The thing is, I really want to take the opportunity to trim down our database. So, I am looking for some archiving solutions. We'd like a solution that presents the user (ie daily or weekly) with options to delete or archive mail items that are 3 years (or some other period that we select.
I know that the enterprise version of exchange has archiving features. But, I don't know if it really has that functionality where it (through emails or outlook) tells the user the messages that need to be considered for deletion or archiving. And, even if it does, I am not sure that archiving would really do much for us.
In some ways I get it. Archiving mail pulls data out of the mailbox database and puts it in a .pst file. The .pst file is easier to handle than a huge mailbox database and it doesn't slow down the exchange server. But, after a while, running a 4-6GB .pst file is going to have problems also. for example, it won't index, you can't run offline files against it, it still needs to have storage somewhere. And if it's all garbage, you are still paying to store garbage.
I understand that exchange 2010 enterprise doesn't archive to .pst. It actually maintains a separate mailbox just for archiving. But, I still have to store and backup that archive. So, it's not really differentiated from a regular mailbox database. It does make it more transparent to the end user, but it doesn't help me address the cost of storing and maintaining unimportant emails (ie birthday wishes, jokes, political commentary). I suppose that some environments would keep slower disks available for the archive database. But, I am not sure that we are looking to do that.
I guess, what it comes down to is that I don't want to store & maintain the unimportant emails in the main database or the archive database or an archive.pst file. I want to prompt the user to review for deletion before they archive. I can't guarantee that they won't store these things, but at least I can put some pressure on them.
Anyway, I may be kind of rambling on a bit, but these are my questions....
1). If I am not going to provision a separate backup scheme or disk technology, is there any point in archiving through exchange 2010 enterprise?
2). Does Exchange 2010 enterprise or standard have features where the servers suggests emails to the user which they should delete or archiving?
3). Are you aware of other archiving solutions that might make sense for our scenario?