Bottomless e-mail spiral snares IT

E-mail storage needs are spiralling out of control and growing at a rate of up to 50 per cent a year. IT shops that are unable to cope pass the buck to end users.

IT managers have responded to the "bottomless e-mail" problem by simply imposing mailbox limits on e-mail, which doesn't address critical issues such as the loss of business data within companies.

A survey of 56 medium to large organisations in Australia earlier this month found seven out of 10 respondents imposed mailbox size limitations, forcing users to delete e-mails or move them to their PCs.

Self-administration procedures revealed in a survey by StorageTek that some users simply deleted messages hoping they won't be needed again, while 20 per cent stored messages on their own computers instead of the server. Up to half spent as much as 40 minutes a day managing e-mail and selecting which ones to move or delete.

StorageTek marketing manager Joan Tunstall said imposing mailbox limits is a costly way of solving the problem of burgeoning e-mails, adding the business criticality of e-mail has crept up on many organisations.

University of Sydney information technology services network security officer Nicole Haywood said storing e-mail for record keeping purposes is a "difficult" issue.

"We have quotas on e-mail use but keeping them in a retrievable format does take time; I think we would all love to reduce mailbox administration time," she said.

About 85 per cent of organisations surveyed had e-mail storage requirements growing at more than 25 per cent a year with 30 per cent claiming it is doubling year on year.

In the e-mail storage wishlist, 50 per cent wanted to reduce administration time and have faster back up for e-mail servers.

Tunstall said IT shops need to recognise self-administration by end users isn't the solution; it should be protecting critical data and minimising IT costs related to the back up and recovery of old messages, a task that consumes hours of an administrator's time.

"This means utilising technology to migrate messages via centralised policies to lower cost-per-megabyte tape libraries for longer term storage while still keeping messages accessible to users," Tunstall said.

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