REVIEWER: Chris Marangoni, director of information systems at Litens Automotive Partnership.

BACKGROUND: Litens Automotive Group is a full-service design and manufacturer of engineered power transmission systems and components. An established global leader with more than 25 years of experience, Litens has an extensive history of providing innovative engineered solutions for automotive power transmission challenges. Litens continues to develop and deliver new and innovative products for the global automotive industry.

PLATFORMS: ZL Unified Archive on CentOS Enterprise Linux v5.x with Oracle 11gR2 backend.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Litens recognized the importance of email as a business-critical system, upon which an increasing number of everyday business functions relied. It was also recognized that, left unchecked, an unacceptable amount of IT overhead would be necessary to process and store the rapidly increasing volume of email. In addition, oversight and the point-to-point approach to system management, including employee message recovery and helpdesk services, consumed a large share of IT personnel’s time, diverting energy from projects that would serve more important organizational concerns. Finally, ad hoc employee workarounds to storage quotas, such as individual PST files, made it difficult for employees to maintain access to their personal emails and made minimizing corporate liability a challenge. It was decided that an enterprise-wide email management system was required, and in order to set Litens on a strong footing to address future challenges, should meet the following goals: 1) Decrease and constrain the amount of IT overhead required to process and store email and eliminate the need for mandatory mailbox quotas; 2) Improve the efficiency of secondary email functions, such as search and export capabilities; 3) Increase employee access to their personal email files across geographic locations; 4) Decrease the amount of time spent by the IT department managing the system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ZL Unified Archive v7.0.2 storage management for Lotus Domino Server 8.5.1 offloads emails from the email servers and moves the files onto more efficient storage, replacing them with stubs. The Unified Archive drastically reduces storage requirements further by employing efficient single instancing across the entire organization. The system runs via a Web client UI, requiring no clients on the user machines and allowing employees to access their archived emails quickly from any geographic location with internet connectivity. The ZL Unified Archive also supports multiple languages, including Korean and Japanese. Employees access and search their archives through an integrated Lotus Notes plugin and do not require assistance for finding and retrieving emails. More complex, federated searches across the enterprise are also performed quickly and completely.

STRENGTHS: The Unified Archive is a robust and flexible system that offers significant storage savings, without disrupting the workflow of employees. It utilizes a GRID-based architecture and supports full virtualization, meaning that the system operates smoothly and fits easily into the pre-existing IT infrastructure. Speed of search is another major strength, both at the user and enterprise levels.

WEAKNESSES: The user interface was somewhat dated during the initial implementation, but has been drastically improved in subsequent upgrades. Other initial minor complaints have been addressed in upgrades.

SELECTION CRITERIA: ZL Unified Archive was chosen due to its strength and flexibility of the underlying architecture. Other criteria such as search speed, scalability, granularity of administrative controls, and its comprehensive audit trail system were also taken into account. Additionally, although not currently implemented, ZL offers modular applications such as e-discovery and records management, which integrate with the underlying platform. This presents us with a viable and quick option for future ECM initiatives.

DELIVERABLES: The Unified Archive provides a comprehensive audit trail for all actions taken and can create a full report on the lifecycle of any file within the system. The true value is demonstrated by the seamless interaction with our Lotus Notes Mail client applications. Searching and retrieving mail messages is done using a menu link passed to the ZL server, which does not impede effort. The user’s unique mail folder structure is maintained in the archive, which is a tremendous advantage.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support from ZL has been timely and professional. The support staff is extremely knowledgeable with all aspects of the product. In many ways, the support staff at ZL are proactive and advise us of improvements (patches) specific to our implementation before we know we require the patch.
The ZL technical support has been prompt and efficient and well beyond our expectations. ZL continues to apply improvements and manage their improvements via knowledge gained from their individual customers like ourselves.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation has been very thorough and effective in helping to resolve problems. With only minor support from ZL, the documentation has been sufficient in handling the majority of issues. The documentation is also continually updated, and Web-based documentation, accessible through the UI, is a new and extremely valuable feature.

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