"An SEC regulation requires us to save a copy of every message sent out of the firm and sent into the firm," says Brylow, who's often asked to produce the information on a moment's notice. In the past, the solution was "journaling" out of each user's personal folder files, or PSTs. But each PST holds up to 17,000 files, and Exchange doesn't provide an organized way of searching through them. All Brylow's people could do was sort message headers alphabetically and visually scan them for relevant messages.
Since late last year, Brylow has turned to EmailXtender from OTG Software Inc. in Bethesda, Md., which brings organization and searchability to the company's e-mail data stores. "Searches that would have taken days or weeks are 5- to 10-minute affairs now," Brylow says. EmailXtender has freed his staff to monitor the e-mail system instead of spending their days researching regulatory requests.
There are also intangible benefits to having a faster, more reliable way to comply with regulations. "I had a very time-sensitive request to have a large volume of e-mail reviewed," Brylow says. He might have turned it down in the past, but "using the EmailXtender product, I satisfied the request in 30 minutes. This is putting my entire history of e-mail at my fingertips," he says.
Brylow's content management tool kit doesn't stop there. He uses MIMEsweeper from Baltimore Technologies PLC in Dublin to monitor the content of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) messages. A second package, Assentor from SRA International Inc. in Fairfax, Va., monitors Exchange messages to prevent Robert W. Baird's financial advisers from violating federal regulations by, for example, promising customers a guaranteed rate of return on certain investments. Brylow handles e-mail security with internally developed tools that he won't discuss.
Another monitoring tool Brylow uses is ProVision from Platinum Technology International Inc. (since acquired by Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc. and discontinued), a networkwide tool with some Exchange features. ProVision performs uptime monitoring by pinging the Exchange servers on a regular basis. Custom-written Perl and shell script utilities monitor the flow of SMTP and Exchange messages.
"What we're looking for is that mail is moving internally among servers," Brylow says. "We wrote the tools because we had some problems in the past with an ISP connection going down and mail not going out at 2 a.m. I now have someone 24/7 getting hit on their pager if it's not received on the Internet side or [if] a reply on the Internet side doesn't come back internally. In a moment's notice, I know I've got an outage, and I'm reacting to it. That's how we provide the firm 24/7 uptime."