Email priorities will change dramatically by 2007, shifting from existing concerns and forcing organisations to upgrade e-mail infrastructure to bring system reliability to 100 per cent.
A Meta Group report warns that IT groups will face significant decisions about their primary email vendors and the new priorities detailed in the report don't necessarily mean good news for IT managers.
National Jet Systems IT manager, Steve Tucke,r is aware of plenty of 'disaster and grief' stories when it comes to email system upgrades that involve long outages.
When designing an email system, Tucker said, some organisations had gone overboard.
"They end up with systems with superfluous functionality and complex upgrade and backup problems," he said.
Meta analyst Matt Cain said, "We expect Microsoft to deliver an Exchange version based on SQL Server, representing a major change from the current Web Store database.
"We believe this new version will introduce incompatibilities with existing applications and require new management skill sets. We also expect Exchange public folders to be abandoned at this time in favour of Windows SharePoint Services.
"Domino shops will be forced to make decisions about moving to the IBM Workplace Messaging Platform (based on DB2 and WebSphere) given the limited life span we anticipate for Domino. The shops will also have the option of swapping out the core .NSF database with DB2. This area of configuration maintenance will continue to be one of the biggest hidden costs of e-mail management."
This is in addition to the challenges that accompany ubiquitous email access to a growing crop of diverse mobile devices including pagers, mobile phones and PDAs.
"Email will increasingly be treated as a mission-critical business communication system, with emphasis on uptime, tuning, hygiene and security," Cain said.
"Therefore, email will move into the realm of standard data centre operations - with all the duties that implies - including change control, disaster recovery, intrusion detection, and the like. For organisations, this means a completely reordered set of email priorities - with many new topics compared with current concerns."
IT managers agreed that the legalities surrounding email seem to be forever shifting. There is no consistent legal framework in place and antispam legislation is likely to be introduced next year.
The report also identified spam, viruses and security as key issues.
"Just as viruses were brought under control we believe the spam problem will not go away, but will be controlled via a variety of filtering techniques," he said.
"We believe these issues will be batched by 2006, and single-vendor consoles will handle denial-of-service attacks including mail bombs and buffer overloads, mail loops, virus and spam protection, harvest-attack abatement, and content blocking."