The bring-your-own-device trend also worries him. "If an organization needs encrypted email but also supports BYOD, supporting access to corporate email on personal devices becomes a neverending challenge," Jetly says. "And if a user loses a personal device, who has liability for the loss of data?"
Pete Kardiasmenos, a systems architect at SBLI USA, manages the New York-based insurance company's Exchange servers and gets involved with "anything relating to email." His biggest issue: Users turning to free external email systems, such as Yahoo Mail and Gmail, to circumvent corporate storage limits.
"They don't have bad intentions. They want to know why they're limited to 500 megabytes when Gmail is unlimited. It's because the more space you have, the more time backup takes, the more complicated disaster recovery is. We have to constantly communicate our policies," he says. Like a lot of big enterprises, SBLI USA has had to block access to public email systems from company-owned computers as a security measure, and it has had to limit space in Exchange for most users because of the cost of storage.
Even then, he says, email is still a headache. "People keep email in their inbox the same way they keep files on their desktop, to keep them handy. They send the same file back and forth as an attachment until you have 10 versions that you have to store."
For Oakland County's Bertolini, management is the challenge -- managing passwords, and managing Outlook's .pst backup files when they get too big. At least, he says, when those files get too large, they start to generate error messages. "We find out about it when [users] have a problem," Bertolini says with a sigh.
"In one case, we discovered thousands of emails dating back to 2001," Bertolini recalls. "And the real problem is that most of them dealt with trivia like meeting for lunch. There's a cost to maintaining and managing email over time."
IT's biggest email-related burden is simply uptime, says Radicati. "The overriding concern for IT is making sure that it's up and running and available," she says.
Email in the cloud
So what's IT supposed to do? Certainly, the cloud offers one of several ways to view email differently. Radicati is optimistic about email in the cloud. "It's absolutely the way to go," she says. "A lot of cloud-based email providers have archiving and compliance capabilities in place, and if you want more features, you can purchase them as an additional capability."
In Oakland County, Bertolini is investigating using Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud. "There's still a cost associated with storage, but part of our ROI analysis will be comparing the cost of storage in the cloud versus letting people keep more email," he says, adding that he's worried that if "you give them more storage, they will fill it up."
But he also sees other advantages. "If I can host email externally and still have the safety and security the county government needs, I can save millions in the long term. We'd need two to three people to manage Microsoft Exchange, but if I go to the cloud, I don't need those people. And in three or four years, I'm not replacing my mail servers."
Still, questions remain. "A lot of IT departments are investigating moving email to the cloud," Radicati says, "but there is still concern about whether it will be private enough, secure enough and reliable enough."
Merging communications tools
Like many systems IT has to deal with, email's boundaries are expanding, which means IT needs to begin thinking about email less as a silo and more as one component of a multimodal communications system.