Email Storage Growth – Perspective for the Information Age

From a blog by Bob Spurzem at the Information Management site

One of the more interesting aspects of email is how us users have adopted it in this new age of information.

If you are like me and have been actively using email at work for 15+ years, you remember the days when 10MB was considered a standard mailbox size. We could send 10-20 emails per day and were able to save email for months. Today, receiving 100-150 new email per day is very common. A 10MB mailbox would fill in a single day at those rates.

What is interesting is that email growth, as measured both in number of email per day and average size of email, appears to have plateaued. (Thank God!) One cause for this is the growth in alternative methods of communication that offer similar reliability and ease of use. Examples include cell phones (both traditional and smart) with full keypads, enterprise applications like that include email and new social networking portals like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. So when we examine the total use of email-like communication, I would wager to say that the total number of daily communication messages is still increasing, just across different types of technology.

The challenge to organizations is how to harness this growth. Where in the past, email storage was always treated as a scarce resource; new email providers like Google and Yahoo embrace the modern view of keep it all. Gmail was the first to offer multi-GB-sized mailboxes, and others quickly followed. A seven GB mailbox comes free with Google Gmail and, for a small fee of $5/year, you can have 20GB of capacity.

Microsoft is responding to user demand for capacity with its flagship email application – Exchange 2010. Based on many improvements to Exchange 2010, Microsoft claims support for 10GB mailboxes, and it offers simultaneous mailbox support in its cloud offering, Office 365. It will be interesting to see if exchange administrators shake their hardened attitudes toward keeping Exchange mailbox sizes small and embrace larger mailbox capacity.

In my next blog, I will take a look at how companies can improve business processes by saving email versus deleting it.

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