Great Salt Bay Schools – Low-Cost Google Apps Email Archive

KJ Flewelling was looking for an email archive solution for five schools in the Great Salt Bay School District on the central coast of Maine.  He had already decided to use Google Apps Email, which is a dedicated, hosted version of Gmail, for the 3,200 email users in the five schools where he is the Tech Coordinator.  He chose Google Apps because it is affordable, well protected from viruses and most spam and feature rich.  But Google Archive at $25 per user per year didn’t fit into the School District’s budget.

KJ turned to Mailspect Archive as the solution.  First, with Mailspect Archive he could minimize cost, while getting the functionality he needed to comply with Maine’s email retention laws.  Second, the Superintendent of the Great Salt Bay School District wanted the email archive stored and controlled locally, right inside the District’s data room.

KJ’s Mailspect Archive solution has been running now for 18 months and he can report that it has worked flawlessly.  The District has Mailspect Archive on a Dell server with 2GHZ duo core processors and 4GB of RAM with Windows 2008 32-bit server as the core operating system.  The Dell server includes four internal hard drives, each with 500 GB’s of storage utilizing RAID 5 for data redundancy.  To date, the Great Salt Bay email archive has only used 28 GB of storage, saving 625,000 emails for students, teachers, staff and administrators.  This translates into 45KB per email which is actually below the 75 KB average size of an email as reported by various industry experts.  In reality, Great Salt Bay’s emails are probably no smaller than the average.  What the statistics are showing is that Mailspect Archive is highly efficient and can reduce the size of a mailstore by up to 80% through the de-duplication of emails and attachments.  De-duplication means the Mailspect Archive only stores one copy of each email and its attachment regardless of the number of recipients.   At the suggestion of Mailspect support, KJ recently added an inexpensive Iomega Network Attached Storage device for extra protection and redundant back-up.

Email archive or retention rules in the State of Maine are governed by Maine State Archives Rules for Disposition of Local Government Records (5 MRSA § 91 et seq ).  In summary, email must be archived according to the same rules as paper correspondence.  Each local entity such as a school district may determine its retention policy and submit it to the State Archivist and the Archive Advisory Board for approval.  In the case of the Great Salt Schools, the Superintendent chose a seven years retention period.  Mailspect Archive includes a retention policy setting that automatically purges old emails from the system once the retention period is over.

The Great Salt Bay School District uses the Mailspect Archive solution for more than just regulatory records compliance.

●      Cyber-Bullying – Incidents of cyber-bullying have been quickly researched and resolved using full-text search feature of Mailspect Archive.  Based on the Sphinx index engine, the system admin can use a graphical interface to query the email repository by sender, recipient and/or content and creates reports for administrators and assistant principals to review.

●      Legal Discovery – The system has been proven to be highly beneficial in keeping the district under accordance of state retention laws and as a means to provide legal evidence, saving the District legal fees because discovery is fast and efficient.

●      Offensive Word Queries and Reports – With the help of Mailspect support, KJ implemented a weekly automated offensive words query and report.  Each Friday, the past week’s inbound and outbound email is scanned for bad language and swear words based on a list of compiled offensive words.  KJ gets an email report of any ‘hits’ in his Inbox immediately after the archive query is completed.   The offensive words query has been effective in protecting students and teachers against inappropriate and abusive emails.

“Key to the success of the Mailspect Archive has been the support that I have received from Mailspect.  They have been there every step of the way and worked diligently to get the system to meet our cost and performance expectations.  I feel that I have a trusted partner in Mailspect.  The system works completely as it should; invisibly and without constant administrative manual oversight.  The automation that this system affords is key in saving me hours of work every week.” said KJ Fewelling, Tech Coordinator, Great Salt Bay School District.

“Mailspect also gave the schools a very substantial discount from list price so that our educational institutions could afford a world-class archive solution.”

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