Reducing spam remains the No. 1 concern for IT professionals on the e-mail front, but security and migration issues are also top priorities for 2003, according to a recent survey.
In a survey released by the Radicati Group Monday, roughly 52 percent of the 50 responding corporations said reducing spam is mission No. 1 during the next 18 months.
On average, 24 percent of all incoming corporate e-mail is spam, according to Radicati's report titled "Corporate Messaging Survey, 2003-2005."
But that's not the only e-mail issue causing massive corporate headaches--and offering channel partners potential services opportunities.
Roughly 30 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said improving security against information leaks and hackers is another major objective in the messaging and collaboration space, while 28 percent agreed that migrating and upgrading users to new messaging software is high on the list of things to do over the next year and a half.
Solution providers agree these are key issues--and opportunities--for channel partners over the next 18 months.
"I would say that fairly accurately represents the three [top] issues," said Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, Phoenix. "We have been doing a lot of work lately around the spam issue," he said. "We also have several customers that literally can almost not wait for the new version of Exchange  to be released to manufacturing. I think there is a lot of money to be made in messaging and collaboration in 2003."
While overall IT spending remains somewhat stagnant in 2003, spending in the messaging space remains strong, Radicati's survey found.
Channel partners say they are trying to cash in on putting out spam and security fires and from migrations from older e-mail systems to more contemporary offerings such as Lotus Domino 6.0 and Microsoft Exchange 2000, as well as forthcoming Lotus Notes/Domino 6.5 and Exchange 2003 products, both expected to ship by the end of the year.
After a long drought in IT spending following Y2K and the burst of the dot-com bubble, many companies are beginning to migrate to newer e-mail solutions.
According to the research firm's survey, spending for new e-mail will remains strong through 2003 and 2004, with the average annual budget for acquiring new messaging software at $490,000 in 2003.
"As far as Notes/Exchange upgrades, many clients have started planning mail server upgrades," said Michael Goldstein, vice president of sales and marketing at LAN Associates, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider. "We do not have many Notes clients, but both our Novell [and] Microsoft clients have started spending on this."
The survey data also points to increased opportunities in e-mail storage/archiving, e-mail server consolidation, mobile use, wireless opportunities and improving security against viruses.
About 24 percent of respondents said server consolidation is a chief priority. Today, roughly 44 percent of the companies surveyed indicated that they continue to use multiple messaging systems from various vendors.
Of the 50 companies surveyed, 51 percent said they use Microsoft Exchange, 23 percent use Lotus Domino, 9 percent use Sun One Messaging Server and 12 percent run Rockcliffe MailSite SE/LE, Novell GroupWise or Sendmail.
In step with recently enacted federal guidelines instructing corporations to save and store e-mail as de facto business records, roughly one-quarter (24 percent) of the survey respondents said deploying an e-mail archiving and storage solution is their top messaging priority for 2003 and 2004.
Corporate users surveyed said they now send out and receive an average of almost 10 Mbytes of e-mail data each business day, representing a growth of 92 percent since 2000 and an overall 81 percent growth in corporate e-mail traffic over the past year. Thus, many corporations face increasing storage requirements, according to the Radicati study.
That's not all. 22 percent of the corporations surveyed pointed to mobility, simplifying administration and reducing the total cost of e-mail ownership as key objectives for the next 18 months.
Only 2.7 percent of the companies surveyed said they offer employees wireless access to e-mail today. But nearly 10 percent of the same respondents said they expect to procure and deploy wireless access to e-mail within the next 18 months.
Other corporate priorities include mailing-list management, improving calendaring/scheduling, reducing downtime and deploying unified messaging. Between 10 percent and 16 percent of the survey respondents checked these issues off as top priorities over the next 18 months.
Deploying instant messaging is yet another priority for corporate e-mail administrators. While the survey results show that roughly 70 percent of the companies surveyed use instant messaging, only 26 percent have standardized on a specific, companywide instant messaging solution.
Roughly 8 percent of the respondents said IM is a top messaging priority in 2003 and 2004.
Finally, corporate respondents point to deploying metadirectories (6 percent), dial-up remote access (4 percent) and empowering deskless workers with e-mail (2 percent) as chief objectives.
Roughly 22 percent of companies surveyed said they plan to migrate to a new directory product over the next 18 months, and 26 percent indicated that they are using at least one metadirectory product.
According to the survey, the annual operating budget for the average corporate infrastructure is $1.1 million, which includes the costs for e-mail maintenance, administration, installation and training but not software or hardware acquisition costs.