Case of TB Traveler Shows Worth of Good E-Mail Archives

E-mail archiving and recovery software has proved itself useful in the case of the American who flew to Europe even though he had tuberculosis (TB).

The Fulton County, Georgia, Department of Health and Wellness tried to prevent Andrew Speaker, of Atlanta, from traveling to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon in May because his drug-resistant form of TB could make him contagious to other airline passengers.

Speaker has said in media interviews that he had not been told he couldn't fly. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper covering the case filed an open records request with Fulton County Georgia Government to disclose e-mail messages among health officials in which Speaker's case was discussed.

The Fulton County case illustrates how e-mail archiving software can facilitate e-discovery, the process by which organizations retrieve internal electronic documents sought in a government investigation, a lawsuit, or other matters.

The market for "active e-mail archiving" software grew to US$207 million in 2006, based on licensing revenue, a 42.8 percent increase from 2005, according to the research firm Gartner Inc., which forecasts a $1 billion market by 2011.

The top two vendors are Symantec Corp., with $110 million in revenue and a 23 percent share, and Zantaz Inc., with $106 million and a 22 percent share, according to IDC. Autonomy Corp. PLC, a British software company, announced July 3 plans to acquire Zantaz for $375 million.

Fulton County uses Symantec's Enterprise Vault software.

"All I basically had to do was say. ... I want any e-mails retrieved for me that involved the name Andrew Speaker," said Rich Diller e-mail administrator for Fulton County. The software retrieved about 200 pages of e-mail correspondence related to Speaker's case.

Based on those documents, the Journal-Constitution was able to report in a June 13 story that although health department officials were scrambling to find a legal way to prevent Speaker from getting on a plane, he had already left.

The county retrieved the requested e-mail messages in about 90 minutes. Had the software not been available, the search would have been "your proverbial nightmare," said Diller. "It would have been me opening up individual mailboxes and constructing one-off searches on each mailbox and compiling all the data."

Fulton County Government has 7,000 e-mail boxes, said Robert Taylor, chief information officer for the county.

"We could not do an enterprise search [manually]. It would have taken us weeks or months," Taylor said, adding that the county gets four to five document search requests each week.

Drivers for the growth of e-discovery technology are many: Most all business communications today are done electronically; new U.S. Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCPs) require companies to establish a policy on how electronic documents are preserved and organized; and some enterprises have been embarrassed by sloppy lapses in saving electronic files sought in various cases.

But awareness of e-mail archiving appears limited. An independent survey commissioned by another vendor, C2C Systems Inc., revealed that only 24 percent of IT professionals surveyed could identify an e-mail archiving product by name and 37 percent felt that using PSTs was sufficient for e-mail archiving.

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