Many mail make managers manic

E-mail is frequently blamed for creating storage bloat, but is the most effective means of dealing with the problem increasing storage capacity, imposing quotas, enforcing archive rules, or just driving the help desk nuts with questions?

E-mail is frequently blamed for creating storage bloat, but is the most effective means of dealing with the problem increasing storage capacity, imposing quotas, enforcing archive rules, or just driving the help desk nuts with questions?

The answer, surprisingly, may be all of the above.

Regular visitors to ZDNet.com.au will have seen last week's story about how Corporate Express saved itself a couple of million dollars by rationalising its storage infrastructure.

One of the biggest problems the company encountered was dealing with ever-swelling PST files from its Exchange infrastructure. "PSTs were causing no end of problems," technology infrastructure manager Mark Jones explained.

Corporate Express took a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem, but its central strategy was to develop an automatic archiving system that moved mail onto lower-tier storage after a fixed period of time. Jones anticipated that this might cause some problems. "People at first were resistant of going down the archiving approach," he said.

As with most changes, however, once the users got used to the new system, they couldn't get enough of it. "Now people want things archived earlier than our rules permit because they dislike the clutter."

Making that shift also racked up some impressive storage savings; volume requirements for mail have fallen by two terabytes as a result of archiving. The biggest benefit for Corporate Express, however, was in staffing levels.

"The noise reduction alone from calls to the help desk is worth doing it for," Jones said. "We were able to take one resource off help desk purely from calls on PST management. We've taken PST files completely out of the environment."

Despite the success of those technology solutions, however, Jones remains a fan of imposing storage limits to ensure sensible behaviour by staff. "It doesn't negate the need for quotas — you still have to have those around mailboxes," he said.

I've sounded off before about the problems with e-mail quotas, and got an absolute hammering from readers as a result.

So I'll defer offering any further thoughts and hold up Mr Jones as an example to follow. Anyone who can cut down the corporate mailbox by two terabytes and get someone off a horrendous help desk job undoubtedly knows better than I do.