Less is Moore - Email in a Recession

In a sense, unlike microprocessors, business email started out being cheap or even free. But over the years email has followed rather the opposite direction to Moores Law from a cost perspective.

Reading the 15 Jan 2009 Economist article, "Less is Moore - Technology in a Recession" made me think about the cost of email.

I recall working as a systems engineer when corporate email systems began their journey towards popularity. It was an amazing thing - savings all round, fewer fax rolls needed, less time on phone calls, and PA's could remain desk bound directing the affairs of a company rather than wizzing around the office organising things. This came at just the cost of a mail server, which could run on any old machine - and which company couldn't afford that?

But then the low cost party got ruined! As users began to make email their primary communication tool, primary document and information store, and their unstructured record set of who they knew and how to reach them, the picture changed. Companies slowly realised that their businesses and processes has become almost entirely dependent on email. Then as more and more email systems became connected to the Internet, the need to secure these systems grew as the proliferation of junk mail and malicious code in emails grew too. And then the law makers took their spanners out on our email usage, driven on by one or two offending emails over at Worldcom and Enron, and a growing need for data protection regulation.

So what started out as a nice tidy little office mail server helping everybody to communicate evolved by stealth into a complex assortment of email related systems and infrastructures. We now have antispam gateways and services, antivirus products, clustered servers and DR sites, mirrored databases, archive systems for compliance and storage management which in turn require indexing servers, sql servers, web servers, storage volumes and backup systems, we have data leak prevention systems, e-discovery systems, disclaimer management systems, gateways to handle routing and of course many more hours in the day spent twiddling around with these things. Glorious complexity! That is unless you suffer from Lan Clutter Fatigue Syndrome - something affecting more and more of us these days.

Over the years Mimecast has spoken to thousands of customers about the costs they’ve incurred running enterprise email infrastructures and we have published our findings in a White Paper entitled - The Total Cost of Email.