Bulging email inboxes are one of the most visible signs of organisations’ expanding data storage requirements.
At Wellington City Council, IT manager Jos Van Herk says the volume of stored email is growing at 10% a year; at present he has 36GB of the stuff to safeguard.
While email might typically account for about 20% of total stored data, storage company StorageTek found that more than two-thirds of 27 medium-sized and large New Zealand organisations it spoke to impose mailbox limitations, forcing users to delete email or keep a local copy. According to the survey, Wellington City’s email mountain is growing comparatively slowly; most organisations are accumulating 25% more each year.
StorageTek’s survey found self-administration procedures vary: while 5% gamble that they won’t need to refer back to old email and delete it, 25% copy it to their PC; 12.5% delete their oldest messages; and 57.5% pick and choose which to delete or move.
Van Herk says there is always a risk employees may mistakenly delete important business information. Rather than manage their email, he believes they should take responsibility for managing the information the mail contains.
Each WCC user has a quota of 45MB with exceptions approved on a case-by-case basis, but there is pressure to increase the mail file size. Important email must be kept outside the email store in relevant directories or printed and filed.
WCC estimates about 70% of emails contain critical business information, based on random mailbox sampling. The council must store all email relating to important business decisions, business correspondence, agreements, correspondence with employees, HR issues and complaints.
StorageTek Australia and New Zealand boss Philip Belcher thinks self-administration is the wrong approach, contributing to loss of email data or moving it beyond the reach of centralised backup. Sifting it for saving or deletion also consumes time.
Its survey found that in about four-fifths of organisations, just 25% of their email contained business-critical data.
StorageTek recommends migrating email messages via centralised policies to cheaper disk and tape for long term storage, while keeping messages and their attachments accessible to end users.