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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.