The importance of e-mail for a business

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Today, email is one of the most powerful communication tools used by businesses around the World. Email allows businesses to communicate with their customers and other businesses within seconds allowing speedy business communication and transactions.

So, you’re an I.T professional and have setup a Microsoft Exchange system and email is running smoothly for the first time for a small but expanding business. The business will start to rely on the system so heavily that if it goes down, staff will complain to the highest level possible. We have all come across complaining users.

As an I.T Professional you must ask yourself a number of questions before rushing into building your mail system.

1) How much downtime will the business allow?
2) What happens if the server crashes?
3) What if there is a powercut?
4) What if I need to update the system?
5) How am i going to backup the data?
6) Does my Exchange Server have enough capacity? (Note that a mail store can grow quite quickly over the years)

Implementing the system is the easy part but uptime of the system is the difficult task which requires careful planning.

There are a few things you can do to allow your system as much uptime as possible, including:

1) RAID – Most businesses use RAID configured disks in their servers. Make sure your server does incase of a hard drive failure.

2) Dual power supplies within your server incase one power supply fails

3) If you the business can afford, it’s worth setting up a cluster of two servers so if one server crashes the other continues. You will also be able to update your system when required. You will require a reliable central storage device e.g. a SAN

4) To avoid system downtime due to powercuts, invest in a decent UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).

5) Make sure you plan the amount of capacity in your server so you’re not struggling to free disk space in the near future.

6) Backup your data e.g. on tape and try to keep the most up to date copies off site.

7) If you really wanted to safe guard your system from fire etc, you could replicate your system to a server located on another site.

8.) If your server hardware is covered, always go for the minimum on site response service. For example, Dell offer a 4 hour on site service.

Remember, a small business will grow to become a larger one so it’s best you spend the extra so your system continues to run smoothly. If the company does not agree, always put the disadvantages across to the board so they are aware. Also, make the board aware of any point of failures out of your control.

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