For overloaded IT departments, making sure that e-mail is compliant is a burden--and many companies need a third-party to deal with it.
"Outsourcing e-mail can be a cost-effective solution, especially for smaller organizations," says Mike Casey, principal analyst, Contoural Inc. But Casey adds, there is the chance of putting sensitive data at risk when e-mail archiving is outsourced. He recommends that companies "review the outsourcer's infrastructure and security controls" and their "methods for retrieval of the entire archive."
The benefits of outsourced e-mail archiving are plentiful, though, says Margaret Rimmler, VP of marketing, enterprise solutions and services for records management company, Iron Mountain. "Outsourcing gets companies out of an immediate mess for 30% less money than they could do it themselves," says Rimmler.
Analyst Casey agrees, saying that "an outsourcer may have a more controlled and well-managed infrastructure than a small business could build on its own."
In addition to Iron Mountain, BT Syntegra, Connected and Zantaz offer e-mail archival services. About two months ago, AT&T jumped into the ring by announcing AT&T E-Mail Archiving, a fully managed e-mail archival service that uses e-mail archiving software from KVS Inc., along with EMC's Centera storage device.
Pioneer Investments, a MA-based financial services firm, is the first company to use AT&T's service. "We wanted an unbiased solution because internally it cost too much to archive e-mails," says Chris Chapin, VP of information technology at Pioneer. Chapin is a happy customer, but admits that he's not a huge fan of outsourcing. "There's a loss of control, so you really have to trust the outsourcer," he says. Hence, Chapin and his team did a year of research before going with AT&T.
Establishing that trust is an important part of selecting a vendor to handle e-mail archiving. "Sitting down and working out the best solution is a critical part of the presale process," says Carolyn Hennessey Rose, product director, AT&T Hosting Services. "All customers are concerned about security, and it's the outsourcer's job to make them feel comfortable."