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Survey: Spam is scourge of messaging world

Just how big a problem is spam? A new survey ranks unwanted e-mail up against other messaging priorities.

Spam -- barely a blip on businesses' radar when researcher Radicati Group conducted a corporate messaging study two years ago -- has emerged as the top priority, according to this year's report.

Sixty-two percent of respondents cited the reduction of unwanted e-mail as a key undertaking. The report from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based consultancy also uncovered figures that show messaging loads spiraling upward.

The average user now receives 81 e-mails each day, and nearly one quarter of them are spam, according to the study. It also found that the average inbox requires 9.6 MB of storage space to handle a typical day's incoming mail. That's nearly double the 5.0 MB cited last year.

"The real cost of spam is in the amount of network infrastructure that gets used up unnecessarily to support 24% of all e-mail," said Sara Radicati, Radicati Group CEO.

The report found that smaller organizations -- which generally have fewer IT resources and less of a budget for antispam software -- bear a bigger spam burden.

Other important messaging initiatives include fortifying security, identified by 30% of respondents, and upgrading messaging software, cited by 28%.

Businesses said they had to fend off roughly 21 virus attacks in the last year, but on average, less than one of those attacks caused significant downtime or damage. The study showed that the more antivirus products an organization has installed, the more secure its infrastructure is.

On the software upgrade front, the Radicati Group found that about one in five shops plan to move to a new directory, and, of those, 64% said they plan to make the move to Active Directory. The introduction of Microsoft Exchange 2003 later this summer, Microsoft's first major messaging server release in three years, will account for much of the new messaging software adoption, said Marcel Nienhuis, the report's author and the Radicati Group's leading analyst for messaging and collaboration.

Of the organizations polled worldwide, 52% said Microsoft Exchange is their primary messaging server, and 23% are Lotus Domino shops. Forty-four percent said they have deployed messaging servers from more than one vendor.

In North America, Microsoft Outlook topped Lotus Notes in terms of overall installed base client adoption, 41% to 23%.

Other findings:

--Outsourced messaging hasn't caught on. The 82% of companies that said they run messaging entirely in house identified loss of IT control as a key inhibitor to outsourcing.

--Seventy percent of the businesses surveyed are running instant messaging. But only 22% have standardized on a corporate solution. Lotus Instant Messaging (formerly called Sametime) leads the corporate IM race.

--Roughly one in five companies has deployed unified messaging, the practice of retrieving e-mail, telephone, fax and other messages from a single source. But they've extended those capabilities only to select workers, largely because of the high cost.

--Only 2.6% of the total work force e-mail population currently has wireless access to e-mail. Another 9.2% are expected to gain wireless capabilities in the next 18 months.

"Corporate Messaging Survey, 2003-2005" polled IT workers and decision makers at 50 companies worldwide; respondents spoke on behalf of a combined 804,827 employees.


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