New tool aims to clean up e-mail attachment clutter

Proginet software stores attachments on servers and lets users access them via links

Proginet on Monday unveiled its CFI Attachment Manager software, which is designed to reduce the storage strain and management complexity that file attachments can bring to overtaxed e-mail servers.

Attachment Manager enables IT administrators to manage the flow, expiration and compression of email attachments. The software offloads attachments and stores them in a separate database store outside the email environment, said Proginet officials.

The e-mail recipients receive a password-protected link for accessing the encrypted email attachments. The new Progient tool can store the attachments behind firewalls for added protection, the company said.

The database can store attachments of any size, said Arne Johnson, senior vice-president of product marketing for Garden City, NY-based Progient. The product is available this month and is priced from US$5,000, he added.

Johnson said the product can also create logs, alerts and time stamps to report on all email-related activity before it leaves a system and once it's opened at its destination.

The next version of Attachment Manager will include the ability to import, export and index any email or attachment to multiple storage area networks within a company. Johnson declined to disclose a ship date for that version.

However, he did say that the company plans to add a plug-in for Lotus notes by this summer.

Michael Werdmecki, IT manager for Data Conversion Lab, has been evaluating a test version of Attachment Manager in a non-production environment for the past month. He said his company, which specializes in data transformation, is looking to avoid problems when sending large-sized email attachments into restricted firewall and traffic port environments.

Based on initial testing of the product, Werdmecki said the software should help clear that issue and lighten the burden email attachments regularly place on his Exchange infrastructure. Setting internal policies to restrict email attachment sizes to prevent databases from clogging did not solve the problem, he noted.

"Attachments certainly have impacted our email system. Even the 5MB to 10MB attachments do add up," said Werdmecki. "Even though they're not supposed to, people use emails as file cabinets. PDFs have really been the big killer to our email system. They're just small enough to fit and large enough to add up."?

Data Conversion Lab has sent email attachments using Attachment Manager to six clients who have experienced trouble in the past with file transfers. Werdmecki said neither side encountered any problems using the software in its trial form. He said he plans to have the software installed in April.

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