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On any given day, a resident of the City of Orlando can call the municipal offices and ask to see all the emails that, let's say, the chief of police sent out and received in January 2002. They also might receive a request the same week, or even the same day, from someone asking to see all the emails sent in March relating to the fire department.
For John Matelski, deputy chief information officer for the city, it's an organizational and storage nightmare. But with the aid of email archiving, he tries to think of it as just a challenge.
"It's a storage challenge. That's how I like to look at it," says Matelski, whose WAN supports more than 100 facilities and whose department supports 2,500 email accounts. "Since we live in Florida, we're subject to the Florida Sunshine Laws, which say that all government activities are open to the public and all government business transactions must be provided...How you do that is up to you. But I can't print it all out and put it in a folder. Automating that process is critical."
The City of Orlando is part of a new trend picking up on a relatively old idea -- email archiving.
With a majority of business users relying on email more than the telephone when it comes to business communications, an ever-increasing amount of critical information is passing through a company's email system. Sendmail, Inc., a company that sells email archiving technology, reports that 60% of business critical information is stored within corporate messaging systems. That's up from 33% just four years ago. Sendmail also states that an average IT administrator spends five to six hours a week recovering old messages, since more than 80% of end users cannot recover them on their own.
Email in today's corporate world holds a company's critical information. In emails, financial expectations are discussed. Stocks might be suggested. Sales are made. Customers make complaints. Companies make promises.
And it's all recorded in email.
Now a growing number of businesses are realizing that they need to save these emails. And they can't just pack them away like receipts you toss in a box at home. They need to be organized. They need to be easily accessible. When an archived email is needed, you don't want to have to call in half the IT team just to find it.