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Consultant's Corner: A GroupWise Diet Plan

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Gregg Hinchman

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Posted: 6 Jun 2006
 

"Step right up and don't be shy, because you will not believe your eyes ..." In this day and age of weight loss plans and schemes, isn't it time to put your GroupWise system on a diet. As a consultant, I have for years made strong recommendations to customers to reduce the size of their GroupWise system. And if I had a dollar for every time I heard statements like these ...

  • "We know we have a problem, but we just cannot get any policies implemented."
  • "Our GroupWise post offices are so big that 'contents GWChecks' do not finish in a timely manner."
  • "Our users do not delete anything and we are not allowed to force them to clean up."

... I would not have to work so much.

In this article, I am going to briefly touch on a few policies that will help reduce the size of your GroupWise system making it lean, mean, and running clean. First, though, let's consider for a moment what a policy is. A policy is something written - it's not a piece of technology. IT can only implement a policy; it cannot enforce or write policies. That task is something the CxO's, legal department, or records maintenance department must do. But IT can certainly provide some ideas, and you can shape them to fit your organization.

Email Retention Policy

An email retention policy is a life-cycle policy. It's written based on the organization's needs to recover or retain emails. This should be the first policy written. Questions to ask are: How long do users need to keep email? Do we have legal restrictions to email retention? What do we do for paper documents and their retention? These questions need to be answered, and the groups involved should be the Executive, Legal, and Records Management departments.

This policy gives you permission to delete email, which helps reduce post office bloat. A bloat reduction speeds up maintenance routines and makes it easier to manage/move/redesign GroupWise. It also reduces the time and disk space required to do restores when email recovery is requested.

Email Archive Policy

Archiving email is about storing email. It's also about getting rarely accessed email out of the live GroupWise system. I cannot see any reason to keep 10 years worth of email in the GroupWise system, especially when you consider how often it's accessed. The archiving policy involves extracting email, preferably in a standards-based format, that can be read at a later date with little to no need to restore or to retain older hardware. The archiving policy will state a cut-off date for live email in the GroupWise system.

An archiving policy gives you permission to remove email from the GroupWise system and store it on cheap disk where it can be accessed when needed. GroupWise maintenance routines, and QuickFinder indexing are faster. And, if done properly, you will minimize the need for restores. There are several third-party products that can enhance GroupWise archiving and can support this policy. Lastly, archive management, with the help of a third-party application, can be managed centrally. This reduces the administration of decentralized archives and reduces helpdesk calls when an archive becomes corrupted or cannot be located.

Email Deletion Policy

You should save all emails that are needed - makes sense, right? Well, how do you know what emails are needed? The email deletion policy is a touchy one and is tightly tied to the email retention policy. Basically, what is required is a policy that states what emails are going to be deleted, considering those in Trash folders as well. So if your organization says, "We will let users determine what to delete before a backup is run against the GroupWise system," then you have the potential of needed emails being deleted and unrecoverable. On the other hand, if all emails are retained you are saving spam and other such emails.

An good email deletion policy reduces the size of databases and the OFFILES directory. This policy, in conjunction with the archiving policy, helps you keep your GroupWise system very lean. Again, the net effect is reduced maintenance time, as well as increased speed on restores or moving users or post offices.

Figure 1: Cleanup Options found in ConsoleOne| Tools| GroupWise Utilities| Client Options| Environment

Notice in the figure above the Client Cleanup Options allow you as the administrator to set an 'Auto-Delete After' time in days. Then you can lock it down so that users cannot change it. Add to this the ability to stop users from purging any emails BEFORE they were backed up (used in conjunction with the Smart Purge feature of GroupWise), and you can take control of email deletion and recovery in conjunction with your organization's overall email policies.

Email Account Size Policy

How many of you have set a mailbox size on a post office only to quickly get helpdesk calls about not being able to send email? This is a typical mistake made. You cannot enforce an email account size policy without first giving the end user an "out" - a way to access emails they deleted in order to meet the mailbox size policy you implemented. An archiving policy provides this "out." If a third-party archiving product is used properly, users can delete emails with confidence that they can retrieve or read them if needed, without administrative assistance.

Here's my favorite question for this policy - what size is appropriate? Hey, I'm just a consultant; your organization's mileage may vary. And it depends on the other three policies I have discussed. My suggestion is to implement the other policies and then see what the average mailbox size is and adjust from there. Run a GWCheck with Statistics to get a good reading. For those wanting a few hard/fast limits: 200MB seems good for most users. You will then have to manage exceptions.

This policy can really bring your GroupWise system back under IT control. It also can set expectations for GroupWise. Your end-users will know their limits, and they will have "outs." The net effect: you as the administrator can proactively manage the GroupWise system. Disk space management will be orderly, and there will be no more rushes to make disk space available for a bloated post office or for email restores.

Figure 2: Disk Space Management in the ConsoleOne| Tools| GroupWise Utilities| Client Options

The figure above shows the ability, at an enterprise-level, to lock down the mailbox size. This can be set at the domain, post office or individual user-mailbox level. You can also set a warning to the user when their email box has reached a specific threshold level, such as 80% full. And of course, you can set the maximum send message size as well. When fully implemented, this policy helps you, the administrator, take back control of an otherwise bloated GroupWise system.

Figure 3: An example of a full set of email policies flowcharted to provide a visual of the logic

Larger image ...

Summary

As you can see in the figure above, once all your policies are written it is best to flowchart them so the full logic of what you are trying to achieve is exposed. This example is from a real implementation an associate and I set up for a customer. (Scott Kunau, my associate, did the flowchart - credit where credit is due.)

Take the policies I have stated and build them into your current GroupWise system, and you will see they work together. They strengthen the GroupWise system, decrease administration time, and increase end-user confidence and expectations. In the process, you will meet some compliance requirements and gain control, at an enterprise level, of your organization's GroupWise system. By putting your GroupWise system on an email policy diet, you too will be saying, "She's a beauty" (in reference to your organization's GroupWise system, that is.).

As always, I can be reached at: Gregg@HinchmanConsulting.com if you have any comments or article ideas, or if you just want to help a quirky consultant support his GroupWise habit.


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