Hosted Cloud Services: Consumer vs. Enterprise
Whether they realize it or not, email is often one of the first cloud computing services people encounter. Even before words like "Software-as-a-Service" and "online backup" were part of the IT lexicon, Gmail, Hotmail and others were becoming household names.
Now, of course, the term "cloud computing" has become more widely known, and hosted email is almost commonplace among both consumers and enterprise users. According to a 2011 study from Gartner, at least 10 percent of all enterprise email seats will either be cloud- or SaaS-based by the end of 2014. Spiceworks, meanwhile, found that 42 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have deployed hosted email solutions, and an additional 6 percent plan to do so by the end of 2012.
Spiceworks noted that Microsoft has a commanding lead in the on-premise email market, which is no secret to anyone who's heard of Outlook. Also not terribly surprising is that Google is the leading cloud-based email provider. Gmail stepped into the spotlight in 2004, offering a whopping 1GB of storage capacity per user. Since then, it has only improved its services, increasing storage space and rolling out a handful of other interesting and useful features.
But while Google's lead in this space isn't surprising, what is somewhat worrisome is the number of enterprises that have deployed Gmail.
Enterprises need more serious email service
As a consumer service, multi-tenant shared email service is fine. It offers a large amount of free storage, chat features, voice and video calling capabilities and more. Best of all, like any cloud service, it can be accessed from anywhere, on any connected device. This makes the service especially convenient when you're on the go or unable to reach your home desktop.
However, shared email environments are not ideal for business. Simply put, companies just don't have enough control over shared email or most other consumer-focused email services for them to be effective. Furthermore, these services are often unsuitable for many service industries, especially those that need their email to integrate with other business systems, such as SharePoint, customer relationship management platforms and enterprise resource planning tools.
It may sound obvious, but an enterprise needs an enterprise-grade email service. Microsoft has dominated this space for decades, but as the cloud continues to grow, more services are emerging that give traditional on-premise email solutions a run for their money.
As businesses explore hosted email options, they would be well advised to look toward solutions that can integrate with other systems, and do so without costing an arm and a leg. Companies need to consider a dedicated hosted cloud email solution.
Cloud-based email is quickly rising through the ranks. The cloud can offer numerous benefits in terms of flexibility, usability and cost efficiency. As businesses migrate to the cloud, however, they must keep a focus on services that cater to their specific security, integration, compliance and performance requirements.
Joe Cloran is responsible for business development at Xtium. He has over 20 years of IT outsourcing, managed services and software sales experience with organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Symantec and VMware. Joe earned a bachelors degree in Economics and Finance from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.