Software

Address the roadblocks of international consolidation

When the consolidatation of e-mail systems effects international users, you need to address human factors and technical issues. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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Due to falling costs, increasing bandwidth, and improved reliability of international network connections, it makes sense that more companies are connecting their networks and consolidating e-mail systems. However, most IT departments focus only on the very technical aspects of consolidation, such as server sizing and bandwidth. While these factors are important, consolidating users from other countries can compound the human factors that need attention, as well as create technical issues.

One of the technical factors that you'll need to deal with is making sure third-party products work with the languages you support. For example, a spam gateway that works well with European languages might be ineffective for Asian languages. Even worse, your spam filter may start blocking legitimate business e-mail that's primarily in another language. Even if your vendor assures you that their product is OK, play it safe and quarantine filtered e-mail for a while.

In addition, be sure to address the human factors. Are users in the remote site used to having their e-mail filtered? They might be accustomed to using their company mailbox as a sort of fringe benefit, and your filters may not allow some of their activities.

Other potential problems include the way names are displayed in the Global Address List and how SMTP addresses are created. For example, users in China may be used to seeing their name only in Chinese, or at least seeing Chinese first, and they may not be so eager to change. Also, be sensitive to the fact that some cultures may agree to things simply to avoid confrontation.

The way to prevent most of these problems is to keep the lines of communication open with your international peers. Building rapport will go a long way to making things easier. And since culture and language barriers often take time to resolve, make sure you account for this time when you're planning your consolidation project.

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