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Users have hard time deleting e-mail storage concerns

Gartner analysts suggest storage administrators need to get a better handle on e-mails. It probably won't ever be a matter of life or death, but it could be.

In a previous life Gartner research director Maurene Caplan Grey used to administer a large database and server environment. One day she got an obscure phone call from her boss who told her that a colleague was in a jail in South Korea, and they needed to locate an e-mail in less than 48-hours to vindicate that employee.

Big problem.

Where in the network was the e-mail? Hours passed and the e-mail could not be found. So, a developer had to step in and write a program to scan all of the hard drives, e-mail systems and tapes for the one e-mail. Luckily for the jailed employee, the e-mail was located -- on a tape set to be over-written that very night. And, the story had a happy ending.


In Gartner fashion, Maurene Caplan Grey jotted down a handful of recommendations for e-mail management.

Assess areas of risk. Have good business practices and enabling technology to minimize e-mail risks.

Paper and e-mail are created equal. Treat any archived e-mails as you would faxes and other paper documents. Also, keep a close eye on instant messaging technology. IM will have to be archived as well in the future.

Write it down. Have a good written e-mail policy. This written policy needs to distinguish between essential and non-essential e-mail. Policy also has retention stipulations.

Attack the problem. Consider a variety of e-mail clients to tackle unique and diverse organizational needs.

What is the moral of the story? Management of e-mail is crucial to any company in a variety of situations. The moral for the storage world? There are issues with recovery of e-mails and data management processes and practices.

Grey, who now covers e-mail and enterprise messaging for Gartner sees three key issues with e-mail from a storage management perspective. One, living in a regulatory and litigious world restricts the purging of e-mails, and changes the way e-mail data needs to be stored.

"There are two types of e-mails, essential and non-essential," said Grey. "From the server end, if a user sends and e-mail to a large distribution list with external recipients, you may never know when that message is truly gone, or how many copies have been made".

The second issue Grey notes is that for many companies e-mail is turning into another application that serves as a document repository. With e-mail growth estimated by Grey as 40% per year though 2004, this will continue to be an obvious concern for storage administrators.

Fellow Gartner analyst Carolyn Dicenzo adds the trend is moving toward archiving and backing up to disk, then tape. This is something users are looking at as well.

"We are here trying to figure out if moving to disk from tape it worth it," said Luke Dahl of NASA's Jet propulsion labs in Pasadena, Calif. "With tape you have to consider numerous tape mounts, cartridge overhead, time and costs."

The third issue Grey pointed out was Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange take up about "80% of the groupware market share" but those shouldn't be the only two applications companies should consider using.

"Increasingly you are seeing a hybrid [e-mail client] model,," said Grey. "This is where your own IT department hosts some of the e-mail and you outsource the other pieces. "This will be the more cost effective model. About 60% of enterprises will be using this model by 2005-06."


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