Am I Safe To Move My E-mail To The Cloud?

“Cloud e-mail options are varied and plentiful today, but is this the right choice for my business?”

© duncanandison - Fotolia

© duncanandison – Fotolia

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, email operations really are the life-blood of your organization. Orders coming in by email, communications with customers and suppliers coming back and forth by email, prospective customers initiating communication with your company by email… and so on!

There really are 3 main ways that email services are delivered in a business environment today :

#1 : Internet Service Provider based emails

You have to get your business internet services from someone right? So why not just get your email services from them as well … makes perfect sense right?

All the Major Internet Services Providers (ISP’s) will provide hosting services for your company email and all of them will provide at least POP3 access. POP3 is, for the most part, an access method for your email where your email is downloaded off the ISP’s email servers and once downloaded it’s removed so it only exists on the device you downloaded it on.

The really good ISP’s will also offer IMAP access. IMAP access is a method where the email actually stays on the ISP’s servers and the device you are accessing the email from actually just synchronizes with the ISP’s mail system. You can have multiple devices all accessing the same email account using IMAP and they all stay in synch .. delete an email on one device and that same email is gone on all devices accessing that account ….

PRO : Usually very cost effective and reliable

CON : Not as friendly on mobile devices for both setup and operation -and- sometimes sending an email from a domain on one ISP’s system through another ISP’s internet pipe can get rejected (i.e. Domain is hosted on Shaw and you are trying to send an email from a Telus internet pipe) … Not at all ISP’s will block this kind of traffic but it must be checked out in advance before you implement to make sure this is not an issue.

#2 : Onsite E-Mail Server Based E-Mail

If the Internet service from your Internet Service provider includes a static (i.e. permanent and unchanging) IP address then you also have the option of hosting your own email services …

NOTE: If you’re unsure what a static TCP/IP address is just ask your IT Staff and they’ll tell you!

Doing this would involve setting up E-Mail Server software on the server in your office and setting up email accounts for each person. You then would configure the E-Mail server software to accept email for your @companyname.com or .ca or whatever domain and finally make changes to your router/firewall and your domain name DNS so that any emails sent to your @companyname domain would get delivered from the internet right through to your E-Mail Server …

Your IT Staff will undoubtedly know all the procedures and processes to go through to make this happen. If you or they need assistance with this please reach out using out CONTACT page and I’d be glad to engage with you to make this happen.

People would then log in to the local E-Mail Server from their email program and get their mail…. that’s it …

All the good On-Site E-Mail Servers will have both POP3 and IMAP services. Many of them will also have Security Plugins for both Virus and Malware as well as content filtering. Many of them as well will play nicely with Mobile devices that access them

(see our post entitled I Want To Run Our Own E-Mail Server At The Office … Which One Should I Pick? for some great ideas)

PRO : Complete control over your entire email environment

CON : Someone needs to administer it locally … requires some extra configuration of the domain registration as well as router/firewall security (mind you this is only done once and then usually left alone but still something to consider) …

#3 : Cloud Providers (Hosted Exchange & GoogleApps for Business)

The “big guns” out there really are these 2 different players …

If you have come from a Microsoft Environment in the past where they used Microsoft Exchange either onsite or in the cloud and you really like the Microsoft Outlook look and feel on the desktop then using a hosted Exchange Environment might be the very best pick for you …

(see our post entitled How Do I Pick A Great Hosted Exchange E-Mail Service Provider? if this is a path you are considering as it contains some really helpful tips for this)

Google Apps for Business is hosted by, as the name states, Google … you have a little more freedom in being able to choose the email client you wish to use on your desktop as well as it being very friendly on a myriad of mobile devices as well … but it is also an excellent and robust platform for your business communications needs …

If a cloud provider is the way you want to go you really can’t go wrong with either option (Hosted Exchange -or- Google Apps) and it really comes down to which one you like better …

Some people consider a Hosted Exchange platform as being “safer” because it’s familiar however with the millions of customers that the GMail system currently has there’s definitely a whole community of people that love that platform too …

So … do your homework … ask lots of questions of the IT staff at your company and have some fun investigating …

PRO : Enterprise Class … Robust … Super friendly with mobile devices …

CON : Cost may be higher overall

SUMMARY :

The main point of the article was to introduce you to the different ways that email services are delivered in a company environment … this should give you some good food for through when considering if a Cloud E-Mail platform is the best choice for you …

If you have specific comments or questions regarding this article please leave a comment a below or you can always reach out using our CONTACT page …