TransVault Software is well known for its archive migration product TransVault Migrator. However, it has now branched out into the world of PST management and migration. As most Microsoft Exchange Server administrators know, PSTs can be a huge challenge to manage. Many a project to import them into an archive was started but never completed simply due to the complexity, time, and resources required to gather and import all the data. TransVault Insight provides a variety of options to help you manage PSTs and remove them when it makes sense to do so.
The product offers a wealth of features, which is essential given that there are already free tools from Microsoft to enable moving PSTs to the cloud and to on-premises Exchange servers. In particular, TransVault Insight has been designed for scalability in the large enterprise. Its modular architecture allows it to be installed on a single server for smaller shops or broken down into components and scaled across a distributed network. It also has a range of enterprise-ready features, such as the ability to work well across low-bandwidth links, compute a PST's owner from sent and received data, and import PST files, including those that are password-protected.
Other than its scalability, what really sets TransVault Insight apart is its ability to not only import PSTs to the majority of modern mail systems but also manage PSTs in situ. This is achieved by processing against the individual items in each of the PST files rather than against the file as a whole. Because you can analyze PSTs while they reside on the client, you can make informed decisions on what to import, what to delete, and what to leave in place -- all of which can be carried out through the administration console.
TransVault offers two versions of its software. One version is for those organizations that want to simply investigate and report on PSTs. The other version is for organizations that want to investigate, report on, and manage PSTs by removing or migrating content.
Because TransVault Insight is a modular system, you need to install several different components. The first step is to take a look through the Help file. This well-written, informative guide gives you a decent understanding of the product.
Your next step is to install the Master service, which is the coordination point for all operations. This service talks to a database, which must run on SQL Server 2008 or later. One minor issue I found was that the Master service installer didn't create the correct database permissions. This is documented in the Help file, but it would be nice to have all this taken care of.
At this point, you need to request and install the license key by running the License Request Generator tool. After you receive the license file from TransVault, you must copy it to the main Master directory and restart the Master service.
To complete the setup, you need to deploy and register one or more controllers and agents. Controllers manage all the agents in a location and process the PSTs, uploading the results of commands to the Master service. Controllers also provide an integration point with Exchange and Office 365.
Agents execute commands and send results back to the controller. There's flexibility in how agents are deployed. In a small site, you can simply install an agent on the controller machine. In a large enterprise with remote sites, you can roll out agents on individual PCs, which gives greater control and allows for advanced functions, such as the discovery of open and locked PSTs through the use of the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on each PC.
TransVault Insight is controlled from its administration console. As Figure 1 shows, the console provides a simple dashboard-like view of key system elements (e.g., controllers, agents) and ensures that you know the total volume of PSTs being managed and the status of your policies.
In the administration console, the locations where you deployed the agents during the installation process are automatically defined as Dynamic Locations. You can also add other locations (e.g., file shares) where PSTs might be stored. These are defined as Static Locations. For the various locations, you can configure TransVault Insight to scan the entire PC through administrative "$" shares or scan specific directories if you've already centralized the PSTs.
One nice touch is that you can import a list of locations from an LDAP directory or comma-separated value (CSV) file. This feature lets you, for example, import all the client machines in your domain. Similarly, you can import a list of users from an LDAP directory or CSV file, then compare the users against the contents of PSTs.
At this point, you could use commands to process and investigate PSTs, but it's wise to consider using policies. For example, you can create policies that analyze data by age, attachment (e.g., Microsoft Word or Excel file), body content, and content in the Subject, To, and From fields. You can also use policies to both migrate selected PST content and manage PST content in place, ensuring that data is held in accordance with company regulations.
After you configure the required locations and policies, the next step is to set up the commands. Commands do the actual work. They include:
- Scan (i.e., gather information about PSTs)
- Delete (i.e., remove messages from PSTs or delete whole PSTs)
- Rehydrate (i.e., extract and repopulate archived stub files into the PST before collection when used in conjunction with TransVault Migrator)
- Collect (i.e., import PSTs to a messaging platform)
To begin, you'll probably want to scan the various locations in order to find and understand any problems. Then, you can use the other commands to fix or process the problematic PSTs. Commands can be manually run, scheduled to run at a specific time, or configured to run immediately after another command has completed. When setting up the commands, you have a wide range of options to customize how they run. For example, you can use the Simulation mode to validate what would occur with a Delete command, set a scope to limit a command to specific locations, or specify a policy so that only messages affected by the policy are processed. You can also specify how to deal with open PSTs. Your options include automatically shutting down Outlook or using the PC's agent to capture the PST by means of VSS.
In TransVault Insight, reporting is straightforward and easy to understand. There are four pre-canned reports, including a general overview report and an activity report that shows the commands run over a certain time period and a summary of the commands' results. It doesn't appear to be possible to create your own reports, although I suspect that you could query the SQL Server database directly if you needed a custom report.
A Fully Featured PST Tool
TransVault Insight is a fully featured PST management and migration tool that has been designed for scalability. Its ability to not only migrate PSTs but also centrally monitor and manage data through policies could be very useful to organizations where PSTs haven't been eradicated.