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E-Mail Compliance Offers IT Opportunity

E-mail can drive network managers nuts in so many different ways. In addition to standardizing platforms, keeping the gateways up and bandwidth clear, and dealing with spam -- network managers and CIOs at public companies must now find a way to keep the whole mass of e-mail data stored and accessible.

Those are the rules, thanks to recent laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley that mandate e-mail retention in the wake of several corporate scandals. The trick for net managers is to turn this requirement into sound IT strategy. After all, what better time to reconsider your storage architecture, or to employ a data-management strategy that can upgrade all of your data retention and handling -- not just e-mail?

Enterprises subject to new retention rules will probably need, at minimum, some sort of E-mail Management System (EMS) software, and a wider records-management platform would be good for larger enterprises. Smaller enterprises may blanch at the thought, but lower-cost packages aimed at their needs are springing up, too.

Apart from software, disk-based storage is going to be key, either local or on a SAN, since tape retrieval is often too slow to meet time requirements in the new laws. And unless you're planning to buy a zillion new attached storage disks, you're going to need some way to sort out the real corporate content from the "free bagels in the lunchroom" messages.

Another way to deal with the e-mail storage issue is to not deal with it. You can outsource the stuff, and it doesn't have to go to India either. Regulations always lead to business opportunities, and sure enough, businesses such as Boston-based Iron Mountain are ramping up hosting alternatives. Just be sure that your hosting service not only gets all of the data, but also has your butt covered, legally and otherwise.

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