E-Trail Digital Archive from Lighthouse Global Technologies lets corporations store multiple forms of electronic communication, such as email and instant messages, in a relational database system. E-Trail Digital Archive data can be stored in Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, and other databases; the installation disk provides a copy of MySQL.

Installing the product was more complicated than I expected. The basic setup was fairly straightforward and requested configuration information such as the database in which I wanted to store my archive data. However, the installation runs from a .bat file, a procedure that was not as smooth as I would have liked. I also had to create and populate the database from a command shell instead of through the installation wizard.

E-Trail Digital Archive provides a variety of modules so that corporations can customize the solution to best fit their needs. I installed E-Trail Check Services, which manages the Windows services that E-Trail Digital Archive uses, and the E-Trail Digital Archive PST Importer, which allows for searching and archiving of existing email files such as .pst, .eml, .mbox, and Maildir files. I also installed the E-Trail Digital Archive Outlook Add-In, which integrates with Microsoft Office Outlook, allowing Outlook users to access E-Trail Digital Archive without having to go through the Web-based interface.

Overall, the installation was too segregated and command-line oriented for an enterprise solution. The installation process would be much simpler if Lighthouse Global Technologies were to combine all of these modules into a single installation wizard with modules made available on the basis of the license key.

After installation, I used the E-Trail Digital Archive PST Importer to import email data from a backup PST. The import took a few minutes, then I was able to test the administration Web interface. I generated a new search query from the Run Query page to traverse the archive database. I saved the query, which exported the settings to an XML file, then submitted the query. I was able to view the query progress in the Query Admin section.

The Results page displays completed queries. Clicking the query name reveals the messages that the query found. The returned data can be viewed directly from the interface or downloaded to a file. Overall, the administration Web interface is straightforward and easy to use. However, I thought there were too many instances in which new windows would appear when a selection was made; keeping all the windows inside a common window frame would be more efficient for the user.

E-Trail Digital Archive is built on a Java platform and uses an open-source database, MySql, for default storage. Although this setup might be appealing to administrators who don't use Microsoft products, the administrative burden of integrating this product into a Microsoft organization might outweigh the benefits of using it. By default, the Apache Tomcat Web server must also be installed with E-Trail Digital Archive. Tomcat works side-by-side with Microsoft IIS, but it adds another Web server to your environment that you must administer. I'm not convinced there is a demand for separate archival products, considering that email clients already have archival capabilities—they might not be as robust, but they will cover most companies' archival needs.

E-Trail Digital Archive is a useful tool for companies that need electronic archival functionality, but the cost is high, starting at $8,000 for an Enterprise License. I'm not certain the benefits of this product make it cost-effective for most corporations to adopt. Lighthouse Global Technologies addresses cost concerns with E-Trail Digital Archive ASP, which runs as a hosted service. The cost of this product is significantly lower, making it an option for smaller companies looking to archive their electronic communication. For the full-length version of this review, go to http://www.windowsitpro.com and enter InstantDoc ID 94885.

Summary
E-Trail Digital Archive

PROS: Easily archives a variety of different electronic communication formats into one source
CONS: Expensive solution; installation is fragmented
RATING: 4 out of 5
PRICE: Starts at $8,000
RECOMMENDATION: Useful for large organizations with compliance requirements, but not cost-effective for smaller organizations.
CONTACT: Lighthouse Global Technologies • 800-930-4079 • http://www.lighthousegt.com • info@lighthousegt.com