Emails started out as a quick and easy way to communicate with a co-worker, customer, or client, but the messages rapidly evolved into a vital corporate communications and productivity tool. As the number of messages grew, companies found they needed tools to monitor and manage their flow. While the market for such products took flight quickly, a clear understanding of customers' needs was lacking. As a result, corporations now find themselves with a wide range of products with varying abilities to fulfill the challenge of managing, storing, protecting, searching, indexing and preserving emails.
The market for email archiving products is expected to show dramatic growth. Osterman Research estimates that companies will spend $609 million on these products this year and that spending will more than double to $1.5 billion in 2011. "Awareness about the need for email archiving systems has been moving from large enterprises to small and medium businesses," says Michael Osterman, a principal analyst with the research firm.
Companies purchase these tools for a variety of reasons. One is the growing volume of messages. It is not unusual for an executive to receive hundreds of emails and respond to 50 or more messages during the day. In many cases, they contain important information that users may need to find and reference a few days, a couple of months, or even a year or two later. Email archiving tools provide users with a simple way to find vital data or retrieve it if it is inadvertently deleted.
In addition, email systems themselves are often not up to the task. "The personal folders used with Exchange are very inefficient and can take up a lot of storage space," says Ralf Mueller, IT manager at Ivaco International Inc., a Canadian manufacturing company that moved to an archiving system from MessageSolution Inc. in 2007.
E-discovery is a third factor driving adoption. Various laws, such as the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, require companies to retain electronic records for long periods of time. Not only do companies have to keep such records for up to seven years in some cases, but also they need to be able to access them and produce a subset of them quickly in response to litigation or other legal requests.