By Ann Silverthorn
—Even as organizations become more dependent on e-mail to run their businesses, many don't dedicate enough staff or technology to prevent downtime, according to a recent King Research survey. The survey, conducted by ApplicationContinuity.org and sponsored by Teneros, indicates—not surprisingly—that when e-mail systems go down, employee productivity decreases significantly.
A total of 220 respondents completed the survey in February 2007. Of those respondents, 96% reported that during an e-mail outage, there is a significant drop in productivity and some employees cannot work at all.
A proactive approach with preventative maintenance of the e-mail system can prevent many unexpected outages. IT staffs, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to schedule downtime for server and application updates and maintenance. At the same time, 71% of participants report that they spend two hours or less per month on maintenance.
As e-mail becomes more important for doing business and as the number and frequency of e-mails grow, it's interesting to note that staffing to manage messaging applications is flat. Seventy-seven percent of respondents report that their staffs have not increased in the past 12 months. Five percent report that their staffs have actually decreased in size.
Many organizations try to manage e-mail by limiting the size of their employees' mailboxes. Of these, only 20% limit all mailboxes in a consistent way. Twelve percent of respondents make exceptions for executives, 56% increase mailbox size for any employee at the request of an executive, and 11% increase mailbox size for anyone who requests an increase.
Archiving e-mail can reduce the stress on the e-mail server by moving older e-mails to another location, often to less-expensive storage. Most archiving systems are transparent so that users can still access archived e-mails. Although there are a number of archiving products on the market, 45% of the respondents to this survey have not implemented and do not plan to implement an archiving product as part of their e-mail continuity planning.
Many organizations perform routine maintenance on the weekend in the early hours of the morning. Although there may be a small number of employees that are inconvenienced by this maintenance, this is a small trade-off compared to a company-wide outage in the middle of a busy week day.