One obvious benefit of using an e-mail system such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes is their built-in collaboration features. In addition, having such a centralized infrastructure in place means that it is relatively easy to archive e-mails for backup or for regulatory or compliance purposes.
When it comes to general surveillance to ensure that sensitive materials are not being compromised, however, the downside here is that incriminating e-mails are easily eliminated. And while it is true that proper backups will ensure that all lost correspondence is recoverable, any restoration process is hardly a trivial or quick task for mid-sized corporations. As it is, staffers who need to refer to earlier e-mails are left out in the cold in the interim.
Earlier this year, a company called MXsense Solutions approached me to talk about its SaaS e-mail solution that automatically archives e-mails from a Microsoft Exchange server in real time. I am generally wary about trying new SaaS solutions, given the number of e-mails that inundate my inbox every day. In this case, though, the merits of the solution appeared sound, and I decided to take a closer look.
To cut the story short, MXsense offered to do some configuration of my Exchange Server to replicate e-mail over to its service, which I agreed to. So in April this year, an engineer did a remote login to my Singapore-based server and performed the requisite installation without much fuss. According to MXsense, the typical configuration time is in the neighborhood of 10 minutes.
Because the system archives only new incoming and outgoing e-mails from the point of installation, I was not able to perform any meaningful appraisal of its performance at that point. Well, the system has been chugging in the background for close to half a year now, and I was pleasantly surprised when I recently revisited the dedicated MXsense Web portal that was created for me.
In a nutshell, I was able to quickly search through all the thousands of e-mails that were received or sent since April from the Web portal. Beyond the advantages highlighted above, it seems to me that the service solves a number of problems for SMBs running on Microsoft Exchange.
Slow Outlook Performance
Microsoft Outlook is a wonderful tool. However, things start to really slow down when mailboxes grow beyond 1 GB in size. Archiving old e-mails works, but takes away the ability to access or search through older e-mails. Searching is not a problem with MXsense, which includes a search box with built-in indexing features. Users can configure for an inbox a moderate auto-archival setting that is both lean and blazingly fast.
To Facilitate the Archival of Business Correspondence
Because the search feature is capable of searching across user accounts, I can see a use in which e-mail accounts of staffers who have left a company can be safely removed from Exchange. Replacements, when they are hired, can be assigned the access rights to the previous account, where it is possible to access the old e-mails from MXsense directly on an as-needed basis. This is particularly useful in situations where staffers leave abruptly either due to serious illness or were fired.
While I cannot vouch for its suitability for your small or medium-sized business, the technology worked as a complementary service for me, and without burdening my Exchange Server unnecessarily. At the moment, MXsense offers a free trial in which the first 10GB of e-mail storage is free (I suppose I fall under the free offer).
Trusting someone else to archival your e-mail is not a decision to be taken lightly. As such, I will be posing some questions to MXsense as a follow-up. If you have any questions, do feel free to post them here, or drop me an e-mail.