GFI Archiver Case Study – Environment Canterbury


GFI Archiver takes charge of 17 million emails, 900 mailboxes and 700 users and growing, at Environment Canterbury.

Originally installed in 2005, Environment Canterbury has been using GFI Archiver for more than a decade. Being web based means that users can access their historical mail from any machine at any time. And having recently moved to a virtual environment means that Mail Archive and Environment Canterbury can just keep growing!


mountainsWith email long recognised as a de facto business tool, it isn’t without its problems. Since it provides a record of commercial activity, it is important companies maintain a lasting store of messages – a task which is easier said than done. Recognising the challenge, Environment Canterbury has deployed GFI Archiver, a complete email archiving solution which automates most of the tasks associated with creating a common store of email and which also provides self-service to enable users to recover lost records.

Environment Canterbury is the regional council working with the people of Canterbury to manage the region’s air, water and land. The organisation oversees the sustainable management of the environment while promoting the region’s economic, social and cultural well-being.

As is the case with most organisations, email is indispensable to the daily operations of Environment Canterbury. However, most email systems are not designed to handle the massive amount of messages exchanged on a daily basis. They were also never designed to provide long-term searchable records, agrees Alan Warne, Environment Canterbury’s team leader ICT operations. “From our point of view, we need to hang on to email for compliance with various applicable legislation and because it is a useful reference for exchanges and other events that have taken place,” he says. “Also, as an organisation which works with the public, if any person wants information, we have to be able to find historical emails and make those available.”

Legislation with which Environment Canterbury must comply is varied, with the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ) noting: ‘most NZ legislation has implications for the keeping of records in the general course of business. Some Acts specify that certain records must be brought into existence and retained for specified periods’.

Warne points to a problem which is likely to be familiar to systems administrators. “The structure of standard email systems means this information is typically scattered all over the organisation. It is also typically locked into a .PST file, which is not a searchable record.”

He points out the dispersed nature of email presents several risks, of which compliance is just one. “The greater risk, and one which quite often becomes a real problem, is that people change a machine or something goes wrong and they lose all their email archives. That causes a major productivity impact and can be stressful for the individual concerned.”


Warne says Environment Canterbury recognised the issue and implemented GFI Archiver in 2006. “There was a big push to consolidate email and eliminate the islands of .PST data scattered all over the place.”

He says GFI Archiver was the natural solution as the organisation was already a user of GFI’s FaxMaker solution, which had proven its mettle in terms of functionality and the all-important criterion of user-friendliness.

Warne says GFI Archiver takes full control of record keeping for emails, attachments, files, calendar entries, faxes, and SMS (text) and voice messages sent via email. By automatically compiling these communications into a central store it increases efficiency, improves server performance and reduces reliance on unreliable .PST files. Because the archived email is centrally searchable, it boosts the ability to meet compliance standards, while ‘anywhere’ access and user self-service means recovering lost email doesn’t require helpdesk or administrator assistance.

“We’ve recently made a big effort to sort out any remaining .PST files and remove the many duplicates that tend to arise; that’s another problem in its own right,” says Warne. “When you have something like 17 million emails, a number which gets bigger every month, and 900 email boxes, you want your archiving solution to be efficient in terms of coping with the volume and removing those duplicates. GFI Archiver takes care of that.”


What Warne likes most about GFI Archiver is its ease of use. “This became clear when we were installing a new server as the process went very smoothly; with large quantities of data, it just took time to complete the load,” he recalls, “And once set up, this is pretty much a deploy and walk away solution; it does what it does on its own. Every six months, there’s a new release, and even installing that is a very straightforward task.”

Serving more than 700 individual staff members means there must be some user feedback on the efficacy of GFI Archiver. Not so, explains Warne. “We [the IT department] don’t even hear from those who have lost email. They just log on to a website and they can search, find and restore the email they’re looking for. There isn’t any sort of overhead in terms of supporting the users.”

Warne says the Durham, North Carolina-headquartered GFI is always up to date with the latest operating system and platform releases. “It’s a very proactive vendor. That’s great because if you want to stay up to date with operating system releases, you don’t want applications which may cause problems. With GFI, there’s no need to worry about compatibility, even with the most recent operating systems.”