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Thinking outside the (in)box

Paul Wood | Sept. 22, 2009
Email outages occur whether youre prepared or not, and more often than not, it strikes when youre right in the midst of meeting a deadlineand youre stumped.

Step 2: Think about the types of risks and how they impact the business: Malware and viruses can shutdown a mail server while spam can clog it. Natural disasters can take down the physical and network infrastructures.

Step 3: Understand the compliance risks associated with legal discovery and regulatory standards: Fill any gaps in these processes.

Step 4: Evaluate the effectiveness of outsourcing: Balancing cost with an organisations needs can be challenging. Outsourcing allows the responsibility and control to remain within the company but not the resources.

Step 5: Confirm scalability and strong SLAs: When outsourcing, scalable solutions that match strong SLAs are key in driving a sound business continuity plan. 

What should we look for when considering a hosted e-mail continuity solution?

When considering a hosted e-mail continuity solution, the following features should stand out:

Servers: Avoid a solution that requires the purchase of redundant, offsite servers.

SLAs: Consider selecting a hosted solution that offers a service-level agreement or guarantee that is proven.

Maintenance: Select a solution that does not require ongoing maintenance. That, coupled with the management of other IT systems, can cause e-mail continuity to lose priority.

Recovery: Look for a solution that offers rapid recovery after outages, restoring all sent, received and deleted e-mail messages back to the e-mail server with all forensic data still intact.

Cost profile: Choose a predictable per user monthly fee as opposed to upfront capital expenditures op top of ongoing labour costs.

Scalability: Opt for seamless scalability from one user to tens of thousands instead of solutions that require the purchase of more hardware for each added user.

In the two decades since the first companies started using e-mail and the Internet, it has become a routine part of daily business. If a minor outage turned into a disaster, and e-mail was unavailable for days, think of how your business would fare. For many, the consequences are measured in hours. Unplanned outages can cause huge disruption. Even one hour of downtime in a month, multiplied by hundreds or thousands of people, represents a significant loss to the business. Now is the time to make e-mail an integral part of a business continuity plan.

Paul Wood, is a senior analyst with MessageLabs Intelligence. MessageLabs is now part of Symantec.


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