If e-mail is the lifeblood of a company, then enterprises are pulling out all the stops to keep their e-mail archives safe, right?
Not really, according to a study conducted by Osterman Research for Neverfail. Neverfail is a software vendor providing continuous availability and disaster recovery solutions worldwide.
More than 50 percent of 117 companies in the U.S. surveyed by Osterman Research on behalf of Neverfail in early March 2008 are consolidating their e-mail servers at one site “for a variety of reasons,” Neverfail’s vice president of product management, John Posavatz, told InternetNews.com. These include moving toward virtualization, and wanting to consolidate IT staff and manage backups from a single location.
However, less than 1 percent of the respondents are backing up their consolidated e-mail servers with redundant servers. “That was one of the things we were surprised about,” Posavatz said. This could be partly due to the cost of buying and installing more servers, and partly, as the survey discovered, “a general lack of understanding of virtualization among decision makers so they didn’t think of virtualization as an enabling technology for data recovery and availability.”
Nobody has your back?
This lack of backup servers means the companies involved will lose their e-mail archives if there’s a disaster. “If you’re not backing up your e-mail, that would be a disaster in and of itself,” Michael Block, vice president and information technology officer at Equitable Bank, told InternetNews.com.
E-mail is a mission-critical application for the community bank based in Milwaukee. Staff use it for scheduling loans, communicating with business partners and customers, and transmitting and receiving key business documents such as appraisals.
With that in mind, Block began looking in 2003 for a high-availability backup solution for his Microsoft Exchange server “principally because Exchange is a difficult application to bring back up on dissimilar hardware and we were using tape at the time on that and it just didn’t work very well,” he said.
After testing various solutions, he selected Neverfail. Implementing the solution has helped Block cut costs and ensure high availability. “We have a small IT department and we service the entire bank in terms of disaster recovery, business continuity and day to day support, and you have to be as effective as you can,” he said. “My staff can do their work during regular hours, and we can use it for day to day maintenance chores on our e-mail system.”
If it’s crucial, do something
Ironically, most of the respondents consider disaster recovery and business continuity crucial, with these factors driving two thirds of them to adopt virtualization technology. Yet 75 percent of them did not consider messaging to be a critical area for virtualization, a fact Posavatz found “interesting”.
Worse still, one in five of the respondents find messaging system reliability and uptime a serious problem, impacting millions of workers. “When I hear figures like one out of five or two out of five, I’m surprised, because generally everyone I’ve spoken to says that e-mail is mission-critical,” Posavatz said. “Yet they don’t do anything about it.”