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Email Continuity – How Long Can You Go Without Email?

Email is the universal business-critical application. Interruptions to your organization’s email service can result in lost productivity, lost sales, customer service blunders, and in some cases even legal tangles. A single day without email services can bring a multinational corporation to its knees, costing the company billions in lost productivity alone.

So, how long can your company go without email? Answering that question first can help you to plot a way forward for your organization when faced with various threats to email continuity.

Frequency of failure

The danger is out there. One recent study found that almost 75% of companies experienced an unplanned email outage in the past year. Out of those outages, more than two thirds lasted longer than four hours.

A variety of causes are to blame. The same study discovered these as some of the most common reasons for failure:

•    41% of email server failures came as a result of problems with the data center or with infrastructure, and were not related directly to the email software or hardware at all.

•    23%, almost one quarter, of server failures came as a result of problems with Microsoft Exchange or Active Directory.

•    18% of the failures were a direct result of the hardware on which the email server was running

•    11% of failures had to do with external connectivity problems, such as problems with the Internet, or with a telecom or ISP.

Simple awareness of the surrounding issues can help minimize downtime and identify areas for potential improvement.

Recovery and continuity

While organizations often spend a great deal of time and energy on the concept of recovery in the event of an email outage, fewer resources are often devoted to continuity. Backup, such as backing up your Exchange server, isn’t business continuity. It’s only a recovery strategy.

The principle behind email continuity is that the email service should not be interrupted, and if it is, the interruption should be minimal.

Continuity solutions can include things as basic as spooling messages to replicating Exchange on a cluster of servers. Many businesses are turning to service providers for their email, recognizing that they may be able to provide a higher degree of continuity and reliability than what can be provided in-house.


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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.