March 28, 2001, 10:08 AM — "We'd like e-mail to be like the telephone," says Brian Glass, manager of network administration and infrastructure at Del Webb Corp., neatly encapsulating every network manager's idea of nirvana. But he's just spent an hour explaining how his company's generally solid GroupWise e-mail software from Novell Inc. falls short of the ideal.
"We're not really interested in managing it," Glass explains, having earlier confided his concerns that an upcoming switch to Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange 2000 will only complicate the management of e-mail at his firm, a Phoenix-based real estate developer.
Software vendors, market analysts and users like Glass say the need for e-mail management tools and techniques has risen in recent years, along with the volume of e-mail and its increasing centrality to business processes. The number of e-mail messages and the size of file attachments have grown exponentially within the past two years, these observers say, clogging e-mail gateways and filling up network storage.
Some network managers believe their role is to keep e-mail conduits free and clear while providing a handful of critical e-mail-related services. Many e-mail management tools, such as the AppManager suite from NetIQ Corp. in San Jose, therefore function as a sort of early-warning system against threats to the channel's availability, such as bandwidth-hogging viruses or stressed-out server hardware.