Skills shortage drives e-mail outsourcing growth

Outsourcing of corporate messaging services appears to be picking up steam, but few companies are committing their entire infrastructure to outsourcing, according to a new survey. A study by Creative Networks in the US shows outsourcing of e-mail services among the companies that make up the elite Fortune 500 and Forbes 100 list is up nearly 14 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the last two quarters of 1999. The number of companies that manage their primary mail systems in-house shrank to 81.5 per cent from 95 per cent in the same time frame, according to the consulting firm's quarterly Track IT market research survey.

According to the survey, 18.5 per cent of the 60 corporations surveyed now use a hybrid in-house/outsource model to manage their corporate e-mail systems.

But the outsourcing trend does come with a few caveats. Few companies are completely turning over their e-mail infrastructure to outsourcing firms. Instead, they are adding to their existing infrastructure with outsourced services such as virus scanning and calendaring, or to support subsets of users, such as mobile workers. Recent reports also show that outsourcing options are not swaying users from purchasing enterprise-class e-mail systems such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange. Both of those client/server e-mail packages just had record quarters for sales, posting 8.5 million and 5.5 million new seats, respectively, according to the Web-based newsletter "Messaging Online".

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