The issue of email archiving once again hit the headlines with the recent announcement that the Competition Commission (CC) has demanded that Tesco and Asda hand over millions of emails and letters in response to claims that the grocery giants put intense pressure on suppliers to cut prices.
Both supermarkets have denied any wrong doing and are, of course, going to comply, but the scale of the task facing the CC cannot be underestimated. ASDA has confirmed that the number of emails passed between the supermarket group and their suppliers during the time frame - a five week period in June and July - could be as many as 11 million.
This latest announcement has thrust the achieving policies of UK businesses into the spotlight again as the law does not require firms to store emails or paper documents, except in relation to specific taxation or corporate issues. The result is that, in most cases, it is up to the firms to make their own policies regarding storage and retrieval of electronic communications.
Email has become the mainstay of the business world as both a communication tool but also as a means of delivering a high proportion of business correspondence. In fact each of us is now receiving an average of 18Mb of data per day – and that’s due to increase to 28Mb of data per day by 2011. Add to this a fact recently reported by industry analysts the Radicati Group; that just 14% of business emails are being archived and the scale of the issue of storage and retrieval becomes evident.
Facts such as these and the situation that Asda and Tesco find themselves in, demonstrate the critical requirement for enterprises to employ a centralised email data management tool. Without such a solution, companies run the risk of losing control over their important business records and unable to retrieve valuable information.
The responsibility of maintaining the availability of email data for multi-year periods is new for most IT manager who are finding that creating a secure central repository of all email data can be both expensive and technically challenging. The larger the organisation, more mail servers are required and don’t forget the deployment of expensive redundant hardware, software and complex integration on local networks that are needed before a benefit can be realised.
In-house email archiving projects tend to consume a disproportionate percentage of budgets relative to other IT initiatives. This results from their complexity, the requirements for offsite back-up and the growing and unpredictable data volumes involved.
Attempting to meet these requirements with in-house systems requires significant capital and operating expenses from a business and often results in a suboptimal solution. Additional costs are to be borne year over year as the business extends and patches what soon becomes a legacy data repository.