Hansgrohe is successfully implementing e-mail archiving in compliance with legal guidelines

Published on 17-May-2013

Validated on 17 May 2013

"We built an e-mail archiving solution for Hansgrohe that meets all the stringent international compliance requirements." - Matthias Ratz, team leader Information Services Groupware, Hansgrohe SE


Consumer Products

Deployment country:

Enterprise Content Management, Information Lifecycle Governance (ILG), Social Business for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation


Hansgrohe was founded in 1901 by Hans Grohe, has ties ranging from the Black Forest to the whole world. Building contractors, architects and interior designers rely on high quality and reliability for prestige projects. Their esthetic and innovative products involving water have won more than 400 design prizes. Hansgrohe can now be found in over 130 countries with distributorships, sales agencies or cooperations. With 3,271 employees throughout the world, Hansgrohe had sales of 764 million Euros in 2011.

Business need:
Hansgrohe operates globally and needs audit proof archiving of high e-mail volumes with IBM® Lotus Notes® and IBM Lotus® Domino® in accordance with international compliance regulations.

The IBM solution consists of the performant archiving of all e-mails with the IBM Content Collector for Email in the IBM Content Manager, as well as the IBM eDiscovery Manager for efficient searching. The audit proof storage takes place in an IBM archiving solution.

The intelligent archiving of the e-mails makes cost-effective storage and browsing of the data possible. The audit proof e-mail archiving conforms to German, European and American compliance standards.

Case Study

5,000 fittings of the Axor Starck luxury collection for the tallest building in the world: Hansgrohe SE, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sanitary fittings and showers, provided them for Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The enterprise, founded in 1901 by Hans Grohe, has ties ranging from the Black Forest to the whole world. Building contractors, architects and interior designers rely on high quality and reliability for prestige projects. Their esthetic and innovative products involving water have won more than 400 design prizes. Hansgrohe can now be found in over 130 countries with distributorships, sales agencies or cooperations. With 3,271 employees throughout the world, Hansgrohe had sales of 764 million Euros in 2011.

Communication channels at Hansgrohe run at full speed. “Of course our routine work would be inconceivable without e-mail,” says Matthias Ratz, team leader of Information Services Groupware at Hansgrohe in Schiltach. He and his team are responsible for the entire infrastructure based on IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Domino, IBM Lotus Quickr®, IBM Lotus Sametime® and IBM Connections, including all of their subsidiaries throughout the world. The IBM Lotus Domino solution consists of more than ten servers in Schiltach and more than 20 servers throughout the world. A total of more than 2,000 users are registered. The employees of Hansgrohe receive around 220,000 e-mails every day. However, most of these e-mails have to be disposed of as spam. About 50,000 e-mails are truly business relevant. That corresponds to a data volume of up to five gigabytes per day.

Commercial and tax law sets clear limits

For legal reasons it is not sufficient to simply store the relevant e-mails in gigantic data silos. Business e-mail often contains declarations of intention not subject to any conditions as to form or replace written form completely if they have been signed with qualified electronic signatures.

Claims, statutory periods of limitation, declarations of acceptance, business correspondence, protocols or reminders are also frequently recorded only in e-mail. Duties to preserve records arise among other things from principles of commercial and tax law and are regulated in every detail.

The e-mails must be digitally archived, complete, promptly retrievable, unalterable and true to the original. And if German companies are subsidiaries of companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is also in effect. This act influences corporate governance and compliance regulations throughout the world. “This is precisely the case at Hansgrohe”, states Matthias Ratz.

Hansgrohe is a privately held corporation. The Klaus Grohe family holds 32 percent of the shares, while Masco Corporation in Taylor/Michigan (USA) is in possession of the other 68 percent. According to Matthias Ratz: “SOX requires audit proof e-mail archiving. E-mails are equivalent to other business correspondence and must be seamlessly stored together with their attachments.” In addition they also have to be rapidly searchable. That means that they have to be on the table within a few days for example in case of a legal dispute. “A solely user-oriented e-mail archive is nowhere near sufficient for us”, Matthias Ratz emphasizes. “So, we built an e-mail archiving solution for Hansgrohe that meets all the strict international compliance requirements.”

Ideal solution: performant and functional
Only an intelligent classification of the e-mail information makes it possible to store and control it cost-effectively and avoid legal disadvantages.

“Our majority shareholder instructed us to introduce central compliance e-mail archiving for Germany”, recalls Matthias Ratz. “Only: There was no suitable product on the market with functions for recovery or intelligent searching.” Thus the team had to make do on an interim basis with a simple storage solution. “One year later we revisited the problem and did product trials”, explains Matthias Ratz. What was needed was a performant and functional solution which would also be equal to rising requirements of the future. Both the database and the index were supposed to be as small as possible. In addition, the solution was supposed to require as little administrative overhead as possible.

The products they tested proved to be too slow and were poorly conceived. Up to 11 seconds for the archiving of an e-mail is simply not acceptable in corporate routine. “Only IBM’s proposed solution with the IBM Content Manager and IBM CommonStore for Lotus Domino promised to be fast enough, worked with a small index and could be splendidly integrated in the IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager. This and in particular its high speed convinced us.” Thus the decision to prepare a proof of concept was a no-brainer. Specialists from the IBM laboratory did the lion’s share of the work. Matthias Ratz raves: “Within only four days the solution was executable. Hansgrohe was the first company that used this system.”

Lots of documents, relatively small index
All e-mails are full text indexed and compressed during archiving. Up to 18,000 e-mails per hour were able to be indexed at project launch and up to 250,000 per day were written to the database. The data volume was around 3.5 TB two years after productive startup; the volume of the full text index was about 500 GB. The number of documents is impressive. “After two years of productive operation we had already archived 26 million documents”, says Matthias Ratz. “Via Single Instance Store, that is, duplicate checking, we were able to reduce the number of over 36 million by 30 percent.”

But what happened to the e-mails that had already been stored previously as unstructured data? Matthias Ratz: “Over a time period of several months we were also able to migrate our old data to the current platform parallel to the archiving of new data, both archiving and indexing.” One important legal and organizational prerequisite was met at Hansgrohe within the scope of an operating agreement: Private e-mails are only allowed on the basis of this special operating agreement.

Switch to IBM Content Collector
Meanwhile Hansgrohe also took the next step with IBM and has the distinction of being one of the first IBM clients to use the IBM Content Collector as a successor to the IBM CommonStore for Lotus Domino and the IBM eDiscovery Manager as a search tool.

Doing this did not require an expensive migration of the data. Thanks to the higher performance it was possible to increase archiving throughput to 18 e-mails per second. With this performance it is now also possible to achieve audit proof archiving of the total daily e-mail volume of circa 50,000 e-mails, corresponding to a volume of 5 gigabytes, in less than one hour.

Greater ease of operation, good integration of the components
All e-mails are archived: incoming and outgoing e-mail as well as all internal e-mail, from the home office to the international subsidiaries. The incoming e-mail is first checked for viruses and spam; those e-mails to be archived are identified, archived and subsequently forwarded to the recipient.

The archiving takes place with the IBM Content Collector for e-mail via the IBM Content Manager in audit proof IBM archiving systems. Matthias Ratz says: “The systems operate together smoothly, so that our administrative overhead is low. The e-mail archiving is also very neatly integrated in our IBM Lotus Notes and IBM Lotus Domino system.”

The comprehensive search for e-mail takes place via the IBM eDiscovery Manager. The flexible search screen contains various options such as Start and End Date, Sender and Recipient Information or Subjects and Content Keywords. The IBM eDiscovery Manager records all instances of administrator accesses. Search queries can be saved, retrieved or terminated. External auditors can get access to sections. As an alternative the search results can also be exported and thus provided to the auditor.

Each piece of e-mail gets a retention period when it is archived. The system supports administrators in planning ahead to prevent deletion of e-mails after expiration of the retention period, in case these e-mails could be relevant for legal disputes.

Everything is legally and technically impermeable
According to the generally accepted principles of computer-based accounting systems (GoBS) Hansgrohe is on the safe side.

Matthias Ratz states: “We have systematic directories and can make e-mails readable again immediately whenever we want. Their inalterability is ensured and the data media are audit proof.”

Another critical legal regulation can be found in the Principles of Data Access and the Auditing of Digital Documents (GDPdU), which Hansgrohe also meets. When called upon, Hansgrohe can present documents in the original format, allowing targeted inspection directly in the system and on-site reading. And there’s yet another qualitative legal benefit: that of substantiation. “Ultimately, as a business we are also on the safe side here”, says Matthias Ratz. If necessary, by virtue of its secure documentation and protection from manipulation Hansgrohe would have good evidence to show that the relevant documents are conclusive.

“In spite of the dynamically increased data volumes we can handle compliance e-mail archiving quickly and efficiently. With IBM, audit proof archiving is guaranteed within the context of the business processes.”

Further Information
If you would like to find out more about Enterprise Content Management solutions from IBM, get in touch with your IBM contact or IBM business partner or visit us at: ibm.com/software/de/data/ecm

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