Celebrating 15 years of Migration Success

Posted by Darwin Lee on Dec 13, 2021 Last updated May 24, 2022

The go-to-team for Email Archive Migrations

This month is a good time for reflection, as it marks 15 years since the first installation of Transvault software in a customer environment. In that time, our Partners have delivered over 2,600 migrations in 43 countries. In doing so, they’ve massively reduced the lock-in inherent in archive systems and enabled their customers to benefit from platforms such as Microsoft 365.

We want to take some time to celebrate the milestones Transvault has achieved over that time. And offer a sincere thank you to the many talented individuals in our Partner and customer organisations, along with our colleagues past and present, for their roles in achieving this success.

First movers – where it all began

Our journey started when the founding team were working at a UK email archiving reseller, Essential Computing. This company pioneered archiving installations and support, being both the first reseller of the Enterprise Vault product and then the first European distributor for the EAS product.

At the end of 2005, one of our prospects for an archiving system used Lotus Notes. They planned to migrate their email to Microsoft Exchange within a year but wanted to buy an archiving product ahead of that. The archive they selected would need to be portable to the new system with its different data formatting. No archiving system was able to do that conversion itself and we knew that to win that customer we would have to create a way to do it. Challenge accepted!

Our customer, the UK division of a large multi-national media group, had a challenging timetable and the pressure was on to get started in developing a solution. In the first quarter of 2006 we pulled together a team of developers, selected for their experience of email applications, and trained them on the complexities of database-mapped, compressed, and reformatted email archives.

The first release of code came three months later and after full acceptance testing with our own internal systems, it was ready for customer installation in December 2006.

Transvault logo history

Delivering some of the largest and most complex migrations in the world

A key focus of Transvault’s design had to be bullet-proof integrity and reporting for the largest and most complex migrations. We needed the capability to focus on the one message, out of millions, that was an anomaly. Building an algorithm to correct that specific issue, testing it, delivering it to a live project and implementing it, all without slowing the migration progress, and doing it for multiple projects out of the hundreds running at any one time, became an area of considerable expertise for Transvault.

From there, it was vital that changes were managed into the core product with correct process and quality assurance, so they’d be available for all future customers. Not many software vendors met such a continuous integration challenge in that decade!

In 2010, we built a connector to send email into Microsoft’s BPOS Cloud platform (later renamed to a more encompassing ‘Office 365’). This destination was growing fast in popularity and ten years later would represent over 70% of the archive migration requirements. However, in 2014 when our 834th customer presented their needs we found a new challenge.

This customer, a principal UK supermarket, had an Exchange Journal in their archive (an enormous set of mailboxes containing a copy of every email message send to, from or within an organisation). They needed to move the content into Office 365 so they could use the new eDiscovery features that Microsoft was delivering.

Unlike other systems, Office 365 with its flexible, scalable, and load-balanced architecture could not support a fixed large mail store where a copy of everything had to be sent. As an alternative, Microsoft had developed a new secondary mailbox paradigm that they called the Microsoft In-Place Archive. Every user needed to have one to store their retained email. In many ways a reinvention of the concept of email archiving!

Many late nights were worked as the team at Transvault collaborated with the Archiving and eDiscovery Product Team at Microsoft. They eventually pulled together a new migration methodology, from one to many – exploding a single journal email record into copies for the In-Place archives for every recipient of the original email – senders, CCs and BCCs. The solution designed with Microsoft was named Compliance Time Machine (CTM), because it was like going back in time to get all the original copies and put them in the future Office 365 in a way that looked like they had always been there for the customer.

CTM still leads the market in its flexibility and performance. It is particularly good when a customer leaves an alternate Cloud archive and is handed a huge bucket of unstructured emails. CTM brings order to chaos to ensure that the items are stored in the right places for their owners and discoverable as though they had been there since creation. It also permits granular analysis of the emails, enabling those users or groups of users outside current governance rules to have their email treated differently – perhaps skipped or output to an alternate data store.

It’s this continual innovation and type of feature that drove Transvault product selection for projects at so many complex regulated corporates.

Our Technology

As we’ve continued to deliver migrations for organisations all over the world, Transvault have focused on continually developing and innovating our software to meet our client’s needs.

Transvault’s team realised early on that the most successful migration would meet all the data governance requirements of the customer as well as ensuring that users didn’t lose access to their data and had the optimum experience through the change. From the outset, our products were engineered to deliver that at high speed across multiple servers whilst proactively minimising the bottlenecks inherent in high transactional systems.

We pride ourselves on having migration software that is secure, robust, adaptable, and extensible, providing a solution for virtually all existing proprietary archive platforms.

How the industry has evolved

Over the years, as migration between proprietary systems became more popular and more accepted, it was natural to find other independent software vendors developing competitive offerings.

A mature market will have many vendors offering what appear to be similar products and services. This makes some customers less likely to carry out technical due diligence and take the time to build an understanding of what makes a successful and lower risk migration.

There can be very significant technical and architectural differences between the most successful products and others. Here are some technical and compliance choices that we have seen some systems exhibit:

  • using the source archive’s own database, causing data corruption, and limiting the ability to store tracking information through the migration
  • failing to generate reason codes when failures are detected so engineers can determine corrective actions
  • only using the archive’s own extraction API, confounding the problems caused by a. above
  • writing the data out to intermediate storage creating an extra risk of data spoliation and a slower two-stage migration
  • only implementing a sequential path through the data rather than the optimum performance route to target the data within scope
  • failing to build an end-to-end tracked migration process to leave the customer in a legally defensible position for the future
  • ignoring the ownership profiles of data in shared mailboxes or the movements of archive shortcuts by users – resulting in poor or plain wrong user experience.

All of the above factors conspire to make life difficult for the engineers tasked with delivering the project. Each day they must try to quickly evaluate the progress made and try to uncover the reasons behind difficulties encountered. Migration tools, such as Transvault Migrator, are most likely to deliver the quickest, cleanest, and most dependable migrations for clients. They’ve been specifically designed and supported for use by engineers from a diverse set of countries and backgrounds.

Thank you, Transvault Partners

Born from an organisation that had operated as a value-added distributor during the start-up years of the email archiving industry, Transvault naturally decided the best way to grow internationally would be in a channel-only strategy. Our vision was to continue to grow the range of archive solutions supported by our products. Therefore, we needed to work with experts in many different vendor camps and their expert resellers.

The requirements for migrations came slowly at first, but by the end of the second year we had signed 20 Partner relationships with consulting companies and there had been 17 projects started. From there the opportunities grew fast and we were delighted when all the top three archive vendors adopted our software for use by their own consulting teams as well as recommending it to their customers and resellers.

Our focus on developing our Partner network has meant we now have a broad spread of service Partners all over the world. The most active of these partners have delivered over 200 projects each with our software. Along the way, we developed product and methodology training and certification, a Partner Portal linked to our licensing database systems and a product support service that has received a continuing stream of highly positive feedback. In 2016, we also introduced our Global Migration Services, designed specially to support our Partners either with archive platforms where they didn’t have experience, or to provide additional resource to their existing teams.

All that’s left to say is thank you to all of our Partners for your continued support from everyone at Transvault.

Let’s move together!

We’ve been driven over the years by the desire to help customers continue to make optimum decisions on their retained business records. There is a natural lock-in to proprietary systems caused by storage formats chosen for their efficiency but not their accessibility. If anything, with the advent of Cloud operations there is the potential for this to worsen as it adds layers of access control between the customer and their data that can be impossible to work through. Only a single Cloud vendor provides a high-speed, high volume retrieval API, so others’ customers are reliant on paying the vendor to extract their data to unstructured file storage in external formats like PST or EML files. This imposes a huge capital budget disincentive and arguably even greater lock-in than the On-Premises solutions of old.

Having championed the removal of lock-in for so many years, it is gratifying that the most successful modern repository places no such restriction on its customers. Microsoft 365 email data is easily accessed via simple and performant methods that enable very fast and tracked extractions with products such as those from Transvault.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our journey so far. As we look back over the past 15 years, we are immensely proud of our achievements in the market and thoroughly enjoy working with our colleagues and Partners to deliver successful migration outcomes for our clients.

Here at Transvault we live by the phrase ‘Let’s move together’, it demonstrates our approach to delivering through collaboration, with our colleagues and Partners, to deliver successful migration outcomes for our customers.

Darwin Lee CEO

Milestone moments

  1. 2006

    1st customer installation for multi-national media group

  2. 2008

    Transvault set up dedicated operation to support the North American market

  3. 2010

    1st Email Archive Migration vendor to be certified Veritas

  4. 2013

    1st Email Archive Migration vendor to be certified by Microsoft

  5. 2014

    Transvault Sprint launched for data lite migrations

  6. 2015

    Compliance Time Machine released for Journal migration

  7. 2017

    Transvault Global Migration Services launched to support our Partners

  8. 2021

    2600+ migrations delivered across 43 countries

With Transvault, expect the best technology, the best service, the best people.

Transvault Partner Survey 2020

Relevant resources

Image of Introduction to Transvault Brochure

Introduction to Transvault

This brochure provides an overview of Transvault’s migration solutions.

Download – Introduction to Transvault

Image to show Why Transvault Infographic

Why Transvault Infographic

Infographic highlighting why Transvault is the best choice for your email archive migration.

Download – Why Transvault Infographic