Data growth forces email upgrades


Larger and larger email inboxes are forcing companies to upgrade their messaging infrastructure, a research report has found.

The growth of rich media applications, and so-called "big data", will force 77 per cent of UK companies to modernise their email systems, according to a survey carried out for Mimecast. Around two-thirds of IT managers say they will move from their current email platforms to an on-premise installation of Microsoft's Exchange 2010.

A smaller number, 21 per cent, will move to a hosted version of Exchange, with the remainder considering other options, such as a business version of Google's Gmail. The main driver, said Alan Kenny, Mimecast's UK general manager, was the "exponential increases in the volume of data being produced" by email users.

But the scale of the task facing IT departments is significant. As many as 58 per cent of IT managers told Mimecast they faced problems with email data storage limits. However, moving larger volumes of data to a new system, either on premise or hosted, gives rise to its own difficulties. The risk of data loss and downtime were cited as two of the main barriers to upgrading email infrastructure. None the less, more than half told Mimecast they would migrate over the next year.

According to Chris Simmons, IT director at Birketts, a law firm, pressure on storage was one of the main reasons his company moved to Exchange 2010. The business has reduced "terabytes" of email data storage to some 350MB, saving storage costs and reducing loads on mail servers.

Birketts recently moved from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010, keeping its mail servers in house but moving email archiving to a hosted system run by Mimecast. Users can keep a year's email on the internal server, with older messages accessed via a button within the email client.

This, Simmons says, allows the firm to control the data storage growth prompted by the need to share large files, such as CAD-CAM data for buildings, without the need to impose fixed mailbox limits on users. "It means users don't have to worry about mailbox size. Most people can live within their local mailbox and don't need to go outside," he says.

Gartner, the industry analysts, recently found that 86 per cent of corporate email users with Exchange mailboxes are currently on Exchange 2007, or even older versions of the software.