If you’ve followed political news lately, you’ve heard about Hillary Clinton using a private email server during her term as Secretary of State.

Not only did this throw suspicion on her actions in office, it illustrated several dangers in using personal email for work purposes.

We wrote a newsletter article on the dangers. You can read it here: Corporate Lessons from the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal – PlanetMagpie WOOF!

I bring this up here because there’s one specific danger that relates to Lync Server environments: the question of eDiscovery.

What is eDiscovery?

A simple (but clear) definition of eDiscovery is:

“The process of finding, preserving, analyzing, and producing content in electronic formats as required by litigation or investigations.”

(Courtesy of “Intro to eDiscovery in SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync 2013” – Office Blogs)eDiscovery Papers?

Pay special attention to the last part: “As required by litigation or investigations.” eDiscovery is a legal protection. Businesses use it to preserve records in case they’re needed by law enforcement or the courts.

Many larger businesses must keep records in paper format in case of litigation. eDiscovery occurs for the same reason, just in electronic formats. (Using personal email for work escapes eDiscovery—which is why it’s dangerous to businesses.)

What kind of records are kept? Typically emails, office documents, database data, sometimes videos and internal webpages.

That brings us to records from Lync. Are those considered “legal records” by eDiscovery? And if so, what do we have to keep?

The Legal Value of Lync Conversations

On Microsoft platforms, eDiscovery runs primarily on Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Office 365. You’ll find more details on the versions and how they operate here:
eDiscovery FAQ – TechNet

Down a little ways you’ll see the question, “Does the eDiscovery Center work with different product versions?” In its chart, we see “Lync 2013 (when archived in Exchange 2013)” listed. It’s included in Search, In-Place Hold and Export categories.

It looks like Lync Server is included in eDiscovery all right—via Exchange. The question is, if Lync records are considered legally valuable…which records is it preserving?

Which Lync Records are Preserved by eDiscovery?

The answer to this question took a little digging for me to clarify. I’ll save you that trouble.

  • Archived Lync instant messages are preserved through In-Place Hold. (In-Place Hold is present in Exchange Server, which stores the Lync messages.)
  • Documents shared during Lync Meetings are also archived in Exchange mailboxes, and thus protected by eDiscovery.
  • Lync phone calls and video are not included in eDiscovery.

It goes back to what can & can’t be archived by Lync. If we go back to What Archiving Server Archives…and What It Doesn’t, we find that this list pretty much matches the record types preserved by eDiscovery.

Remember though, Archiving is not enabled by default. You must enable it, and configure it properly, if you want to/need to archive Lync records for eDiscovery. Defining Your Requirements for Archiving in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

A quote from this page: “The archiving database is not intended for long-term retention and Lync Server 2013 does not provide an e-discovery (search) solution for archived data, so data needs to be moved to other storage [in Exchange].”

The MS Exchange Blog has a thorough article series discussing Exchange’s eDiscovery features.
Exchange 2013 In-Place Hold and In-Place eDiscovery (Part 1)

Lync cooperates with eDiscovery for IM conversations and meetings. Factor this into your Records Retention.

As of yet, I’ve heard nothing on whether Skype for Business will alter this eDiscovery preservation method. Offhand I’d say no. The content archiving process is relatively straightforward, and we aren’t getting a new Exchange version (yet).

All the same, I want to stress the importance of preserving Lync conversations for legal discovery. If you’re in a business which must keep records for Legal, take a look at these statistics: Overview of Microsoft Office eDiscovery with Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync 2013 – Quentin on Compliance, eDiscovery

90% of corporations were involved in litigation last year! Yikes. Now that we know Lync conversations are included in eDiscovery (if you configure Lync to archive with Exchange), maybe we can breathe a little easier.

More on eDiscovery, courtesy of Wikipedia.org: Electronic Discovery

How do you preserve records for legal purposes? Please comment or email your experiences. This is a meaty topic; I’d love to hear how you tackle it.

Are Lync Conversations Preserved by eDiscovery?
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