Email is the undisputed champ of business communications, and it’s been at the top of the heap for decades.
An estimated 4.4 billion people use email worldwide in 2023, with more than 300 billion emails sent and received per day. (Source: Radicati) Email’s ubiquity certainly makes email handy – you can count on anyone you’re doing business with to have an email address.
That said, email has its fair share of problems.
Anyone who’s ever unplugged from email for a vacation understands what it means to be “buried by emails” upon their return to the office. It can take days just to “process” a personal avalanche of emails, merely to understand which emails require action.
When an urgent email does get seen by a recipient, it’s often already too late to address the issue. In corporate environments, it’s not uncommon for expected emails to disappear into the ether, the victim of a touchy spam filter, network problems, or a bounce.
These challenges can be so limiting that an entire category of collaboration tools, led by Slack, MS Teams, and others, is forging a business world that relies far less on email.
Interpersonal correspondence is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to email.
Email in IT Monitoring
Because of email’s ubiquity, email is heavily used and automated for reporting or alerting throughout the IT world, too.
Be it failure alerts, security alerts, password reset requests, or even scheduled reports, email is used to send just about every type of IT notification. Because every user has an email address associated with their account, email is well-suited to be the default method of notification.
Problems can arise, however, when IT teams rely on email too much.
For instance, an IT monitoring solution might rely on parsing email alerts sent out by other IT products, to provide centralized reporting capabilities. These centralized reports subsequently generate their own email notifications, effectively cobbling together a daisy chain of emails to deliver critical communications to a user.
While email can be used in such ways, there are reasons why the approach might not be ideal. Here are a few of the most important considerations when considering email’s place in IT monitoring.
Seven Reasons Email Isn’t Enough in IT Monitoring
- Email is not always delivered reliably. There are several factors that can cause email messages to be lost or severely delayed, such as server outages, network congestion, and spam filters. This means that there is always a risk that an important IT notification will not be delivered. If your IT monitoring solution relies on these email messages, your data sources could be missing critical data.
- Email is not secure. Emails are typically stored in plain text at the endpoints (in your inbox/sent folder/mail server), unless both the sender and recipient are using end-to-end email encryption (uncommon). Your critical data deserves better protection.
- Email is not real-time. Email notifications are typically sent after an issue has already occurred, and emails can get delayed in transit. This means that by the time you receive an email notification (and say, your email-based monitoring solution has parsed it), the issue may have already caused significant damage to your IT infrastructure.
- Email is not actionable. Email notifications typically only provide a brief description of the issue. This information is often not enough to take corrective action.
- Email can be easily ignored. Email notifications are often buried beneath a mountain of other email notifications, and they can easily be ignored. With limited support for priority classification in email clients, it’s easy for urgent emails to be missed.
- Email is not scalable. As your IT infrastructure grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage IT monitoring with email. This is because email notifications can quickly become overwhelming and difficult to track as your team adds more products to the tech stack and/or expands the environment.
- Email is not intelligent. Email doesn’t know when something doesn’t happen. IT risk is not limited to failure but can also come about when processes don’t run. Often the email generation is tied to the process owner or application and a lack of independent analysis or measure can hide silent failures.
Understand Your Options
If your organization is in danger of relying too much on email for its IT monitoring, perhaps it’s time to consider the alternatives.
In the backup monitoring field, for instance, Bocada is built on direct API integrations to just about every popular backup product, providing real-time alerting and ticketing, the ability to dive directly into remediation, and enterprise-grade security and scalability.
Here are some of the benefits of using a centralized IT monitoring solution that integrates directly with other systems/products:
- Remediation Automation & Audit Trail: By connecting directly with supported products, monitoring solutions like Bocada can take you directly to a failed resource/job, automatically open/update tickets, and close tickets upon successful remediation. This creates a complete audit trail that’s far easier to use vs. email-based audit trails.
- Security: By integrating through APIs and service accounts rather than relying on unsecure email parsing, a product like Bocada allows your team to maintain its ironclad data protection standards.
- Real-time alerts: You will be notified of issues as soon as they occur, so you can take corrective action quickly.
- Historical Data & Trending: A dedicated IT monitoring solution can store historical data indefinitely, which IT teams can use to identify trends and patterns that deserve further attention.
- Scalability: The solution will serve you well even as you grow your IT infrastructure. For example, even as you add new backup products and grow your IT infrastructure, your backup monitoring can remain simple and manageable through Bocada’s centralized single pane of glass.
- Intelligence: Having direct access to source data provides the ability to build richer insights and gain intelligence about overall IT health.
Email plays a vital role in every business’ tech stack. However, its ubiquity has led many IT teams to develop an overreliance on email, particularly when it comes to business-critical IT monitoring.
By understanding email’s limitations in IT operations, IT decision-makers can adopt solutions that mitigate these limitations while simultaneously improving team productivity, increasing data protection, and allowing their organizations to scale.