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E-mail management: keeping the business bloodlines flowing

IT departments ignoring the growth of e-mail data are putting business continuity at risk, warns Richard Ellis, manager UK & Ireland, Iron...

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IT departments ignoring the growth of e-mail data are putting business continuity at risk, warns Richard Ellis, manager UK & Ireland, Iron Mountain Digital.

Even with the rise of new collaboration technologies, e-mail remains the blood flow of the business. The faster it flows, the faster business happens and so it is little surprise that e-mail data is growing daily - up to 30% annually according to some industry analysts.

E-mail tends to be considered a commodity that, like water in our taps, 'just happens'. Unfortunately things are not that simple, not least for the IT manager who has to deal with a multitude of issues that the dependency on e-mail creates. From downtime to time-consuming recovery or investigation processes, to the growing cost of e-mail storage, e-mails have the potential to be an IT nightmare.

Reiterating this point, a recent poll of IT managers conducted by Iron Mountain in the UK found that e-mail management remains a key issue for a large majority.

The survey showed that e-mail downtime proved to be the key concern, with over a third - 36% - stating that they had experienced e-mail failure in the past 12 months, and 25% of those experiencing downtime lasting over 12 hours. The impact of this on the business operation will no doubt be a concerning thought for any C-level executive.

E-discovery also proved to be a major time investment for respondents to the survey. 42% of IT managers have recovered e-mails to support an investigation, a quarter of whom spent over 12 hours doing so.

Until you bring these risks together, it is easy to forget how dependent on e-mail organisations have become. In light of this Brian Babineau, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), recently stated that organisations should not be deciding whether or not to implement an e-mail archive; rather they should be determining how.

One first step is to lead a culture of efficiency within the organisation. Ask colleagues how many e-mails a day they send to co-workers only a few yards away and you are likely to be surprised at the percentage of unnecessary e-mail being sent.

Even with greater efficiency however, it is probable that your e-mail management strategy will need to include technologies that help you stay on top of the e-mail mountain. To identify these consider:

• How best to free staff from the laborious process of retrieval and archiving e-mail data;

• How to scale your e-mail management solution according to demand;

• How quickly you need to restore and retrieve e-mails in the event of a disaster audit;

• How compliant and secure your e-mail lifecycle is.

Thankfully a broad range of cost-efficient tools and services exist that provide solutions to these considerations - be it pay-as-you-go cloud storage, e-mail automation software, e-discovery suites or fully managed services that help ensure compliance, security and business continuity. By implementing the right tools, as well as a culture of efficiency, you will be able to keep e-mails flowing freely, enabling your staff to get their jobs done and deliver more value for the business.

This was first published in January 2010

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