Managing e-mail for maximum uptime

By David Essex, Computerworld |  Software

• MailSweeper for SMTP Baltimore Technologies PLC Needham, Mass. www.mimesweeper.com $2,116 for 50 users

• OpenView Network Node Manager 6.01 Hewlett-Packard Co. Palo Alto, Calif. www.hp.com $6,000 for 250 users

• Patrol BMC Software Inc. Houston www.bmc.com $820 and up per Windows 2000 server

A smaller category of tools addresses content management, helping to ensure, for example, that e-mail isn't used in a way that could subject a company to sexual harassment suits and other legal challenges. Homegrown software and policies and the e-mail systems' built-in features are also typically part of the management mix.

David Druker, an analyst at San Francisco-based Ferris Research Inc., says he's noticed a shift in emphasis toward treating e-mail like an always-on utility maintained by IT departments that function like internal service providers. "Virtually everyone talks about how the management is allowing them to meet service-level agreements," Druker says.

The demand has given rise to more than 30 performance-monitoring companies. Many are tiny one-product operations, but others, like NetIQ and rivals BMC Software Inc. in Houston and Candle Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif., are major players in the larger e-commerce infrastructure market. Druker also points out that those performance-monitoring firms don't include other e-mail management applications such as antivirus, directory management and synchronization, or migration tools.

Managing e-mail can be tricky because there's no one-stop solution. "Nobody buys just one of these products," says Druker, who interviewed users for a report, "The Messaging Management Marketplace," which is being published by Ferris Research this month. "Some of these management products are a management challenge themselves."

Druker advises corporate IT to ask vendors for specific features and then make sure they listen. "A lot of the people who seem to have things working the best seem to have the ear of the vendors," he says.

Keeping Things Legal

At Robert W. Baird & Co., a Milwaukee-based investment banking and wealth management firm, three central Microsoft Exchange servers provide e-mail to 3,000 desktops in 81 U.S. and European offices. While availability is important to Senior Vice President Brian Brylow, he says his paramount concern is maintaining the company's e-mail paper trail.

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