Email is still an important means of communication in business. In recent years, an increasing number of businesses are outsourcing their email to web-based services like Google Apps for Business. In a tight economic time, the money saved by moving to the cloud can be hard to ignore. There are trade-offs though. Today, for instance, iCloud email users in Germany found that push-email features were disabled due to a patent lawsuit by Motorola. Here are five things to keep in mind when considering outsourcing your businesses email.
Hosting your own email gives you full control over policies governing your data. Depending on the nature of your business, data-retention policies may be critical, especially as it relates to court-ordered access to your email archives. Being able to control your policies to retain mail only as long as needed, or for as long as possible may be an important consideration.
Web-based email systems tend to get updates and feature changes more frequently than locally installed systems, mainly because the changes are easier to push out. When those changes remove features you relied on, add features you don't want, or come at a time when retraining staff is difficult, your business could suffer. Having your own email system allows you to schedule your own updates for a time that best works for the company, and gives you more direct control over selecting which features are added, retained or removed.
When using outsourced email services, downtime can be especially frustrating. Problems with a local system can be addressed by your own staff, but with outsourced email you're at the mercy of your hosting service to get issues resolved. Though downtime on many of the larger web-based services is minimal, and outages that affect their entire user base are quickly dealt with, problems that affect only a small percentage of their users may receive less attention and could take more time to resolve.
If your email host suddenly becomes unpopular, it could affect your service. Some examples of host-related issues that are out of your control, but that affect your email include:
- The hosting company unexpectedly goes out of business and shuts down the email service.
- The host is sued over patent or trademark issues that require disabling features or the entire service.
- Your host's services are degraded by DoS attacks due to its political or financial agendas.
Purchasing a system and installing it at your business location limits the number of outside influences on your email system. You control your own system, and your operations are less likely to be affected by someone else's problems.