IM is the biggest, most overlooked threat

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Michael_Osterman: I definitely think so. Using SharePoint or other collaborative tools can go a long way toward easing the burden on e-mail servers, particularly since they reduce attachment traffic.

Western5041: What messaging function (by either Lotus or Microsoft) would you like to see go away?

Michael_Osterman: That's a good question. I'm not sure I'd like to see anything go away per se, although greater integration would definitely be a good thing. Also, standards-based interoperability for IM would be a great step forward, although federation has filled that gap nicely for the time being.

serverguy: I've heard about ways to prevent important data from being sent out via e-mail attachments -- like sending out an excel spreadsheet that lists the latest sales figures. Do such things really work?

Michael_Osterman: Absolutely. There are a variety of outbound content management tools that can scan content in real time and then take action, such as popup if a suspect message is sent, etc.

Western5041: Are very many companies seriously using outbound content management or "data leakage"?

Michael_Osterman: Not seriously enough. Our research shows that most orgs have not yet deployed outbound content filtering, but they should be.

MattWilson: Why don't people use e-mail encryption?

Michael_Osterman: I think there is still a perception that encryption is difficult to do, which past history reveals is true in many cases. However, newer solutions from a variety of vendors make encryption quite easy. We think, however, that most encryption in the future will be policy-based, automatically encrypting messages based on their content without user intervention, or automatically encrypting all messages.

southside: What is your opinion on using PGP to encrypt e-mail -- is it a good standard?

Michael_Osterman: I think so. It's robust, has been around a long time and works very nicely.

Western5041: What's more annoying -- users that send large e-mail attachments, save all of their e-mail (storage problems), or hit the 'Reply to All' button?

Michael_Osterman: For me, it has to be the latter. E-mail bombs are far less common than they used to be, but are still a problem.

Western5041: When can I get rid of my voicemail? :-)

Michael_Osterman: I think voice-mail as an audio data stream will become less relevant in the future. Instead, I think alot of orgs will convert audio voice-mail to text for purposes of easier access by users and also to make it easier to archive voicemail content.

Moderator-Linda: Pre-submitted question: What are your thoughts on Microsoft Live Communications Server/Microsoft Office Communications Server -- how will these new servers play with Exchange 2007?

Michael_Osterman: These are important capabilities that will extend presence and real time communications capabilities. Other products, including IBM Lotus Sametime, Jabber and many others are also important players that organizations should consider.

serverguy: How big will Microsoft's OCS be?

Michael_Osterman: It's certainly going to be a leading product. Sametime today is used more than OCS, but decisions about e-mail, real time communications and unified communications won't be made in a vacuum. Exchange orgs will opt for OCS, Notes/Domino orgs will opt for Sametime, etc.

MattWilson: Do you think that we as a society are addicted to our e-mail? Why?

Michael_Osterman: Not really. I have been checking e-mail constantly for years and have never become addicted. :) Seriously, though, I think many people are addicted. We did a survey some time back and found that most people check e-mail constantly while at work, most do while on vacation, at home, on weekends, etc. We can send you the results of that survey if you'd like.

MattWilson: Why do you think there are people who constantly are checking e-mail?

Michael_Osterman: I think there are two things at work here. First, many people use e-mail as their primary mode of communications, so if something important is going to reach them, it will be by e-mail. Second, there is a live aspect to e-mail that many people like -- it's real time and so somehow more relevant. I'm reminded of a baseball playoff game years ago that was halted due to rain -- that game was shown opposite 60 Minutes on a Sunday night and still did better in the ratings because it was live, not taped. I think the 'live' nature of e-mail is very appealing to many people.

serverguy: What's messaging going to look like in a decade -- will we all be sending each other videos? Guess that happens now ...

Michael_Osterman: I don't think so. One of the real advantages of e-mail is that it is not serial. You can jump around e-mail content, scan for keywords, etc. With video and even with IM, you have to look at things serially rather than view the content the way you want.

Western5041: Other than security, what should a messaging administrator worry about?

Michael_Osterman: I think the biggest issues are handling the growth in messaging storage through archiving or some other means, getting set for e-discovery, and outbound content management to protect against the loss of IP and other sensitive info. If an organization is not managing their IM, they also need to be doing that for the reasons noted above.

MattWilson: What's the most important thing an IT person should tell employees regarding the use of messaging?

Michael_Osterman: Two things, really. First, e-mail NEVER goes away. You can delete it, but it pesists somewhere, such as on a backup tape, in someone else's inbox, etc. Second, consider the fact that e-mail in many cases constitutes a business record, just like a postal letter.

MattWilson: What will be the biggest story in messaging in 2007? Has it happened yet or is there a big story coming later in the year?

Michael_Osterman: I think there are two important stories for 2007. First will be the big acquisitions, such as Google acquiring Postini, Yahoo acquiring Zimbra yesterday, etc. Second will be the growing focus on outbound content management. Many orgs are headline driven, and so some big headlines of major data breaches through e-mail will help to fuel the market further.

Western5041: In a recent blog you wrote that people shouldn't clear out their inboxes. I think that would drive me crazy. Can you explain why you think there's value in a cluttered inbox?

Michael_Osterman: Two reasons to be a pack rat: first, e-mail is a fantastically useful database of content that anyone can add to at anytime. It allows you to go back and search for discussion threads, old content, etc. quite easily. Second, inboxes often contain businss records that will have strategic value for the enterprise. A lot of these business records must be kept for long periods because of regulatory requirements, legal precedent, etc.

southside: What is the future of BlackBerry in the enterprise?

Michael_Osterman: According to our research, BlackBerry will remain very strong for a long time. Windows Mobile is becoming more popular, but BlackBerry will still lead for some time.

JeffCaruso: Can e-mail newsletters survive in a spam-hypersensitive world? (And yes, we both have a vested interest in the answer.)

Michael_Osterman: I think they can, but it's getting tougher to get these through to people. Authentication, reputation and other tools will definitely be required to increase receipt rates.

StarLog: Any thoughts on Outlook Messenger ?

Michael_Osterman: I have not studied Outlook Messenger specifically, and so can't offer any definitive comments on it. I do like the fact that it supports Windows, Mac and Linux clients.

MattWilson: Since this is a chat about e-mail and messaging, what's your favorite way for people to contact you? ;-)

Michael_Osterman: E-mail. Notes on the backs of checks are also welcome!

Western5041: What's your favorite "Internet" e-mail service?

Michael_Osterman: Probably Outlook Web Access because it allows me to integrate with my desktop.

Michael_Osterman: Thank you everyone for your great questions!

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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