One of the projects that the technology department completed over the summer was to change the way that we handled email message archiving. While there is some debate about the issue, email archiving for school districts is generally considered to fall somewhere on the range from “legally required”, due to open records laws and other regulations concerning the management of school data and information, to “highly recommended”. The district had utilized an in-house archiving system that was both showing its age and required email to be routed through the district even after we switched to Google-provided email service.
After a review of available options, the district is now subscribing to an inexpensive service called Google Vault, which automatically archives our Google email communications indefinitely, providing recourse for users who accidentally delete a message, and protection to the district and all those who communicate with it that important emails can be retrieved whenever necessary.
EDIT: A site viewer asked about the cost, which I described as “inexpensive”, and how it compared to locally hosted options. As an educational institution, we get discount pricing on Google Vault, and we only pay a per-mailbox fee for our staff FTE, rather than for all student and staff accounts (although the archiving service provides archiving for all mailboxes, regardless of user type). For our purposes, our Google Vault fee amounts to 42 cents per year for the mailboxes we currently maintain. We reviewed a wide range of local options (our current option had insufficient storage/account capacity and only allowed archiving for 30 days, rather than the 7 years recommended by some) and were seeing costs that wouldn’t result in us breaking even for more than 4 years. This cost comparison, combined with the efficiency of a cloud solution that doesn’t require any regular maintenance time on the part of district IT staff and the ability to totally bypass the district in terms of email routing, resulted in us making the decision to choose Google Vault. To be clear, as with any service, our selection is based upon our particular circumstances and needs, and any organization choosing their own solution would be well-advised to do their own cost analysis.