Is your Email Secure with 3rd Party?

There is a lot of buzz about Cloud Computing.  IT people are talking about it, business people are writing about it and companies such as Google and Microsoft are advertising heavily to educate the masses.  “Cloud Computing” is a term created from the marketing guys to give normal folks a definition of what it means.  At its core, Cloud Computing is storing data on a computer that is not physically nearby.  For example, a Word document or video can be stored somewhere other than my own computer but easily accessed from my PC.  Another example is Gmail: using a web browser, smart phone or Outlook, I can access my email stored on Google’s servers.  This can be a convenient and inexpensive way to store email, accessible from multiple computers.  Additionally, if my computer crashes, I haven’t lost anything.  This same concept can be applied to the business environment.

A big trend in IT is the introduction of hosted email solutions.  For the past 15 years or so, companies have installed their own email server, on premise, using Microsoft Exchange Server.  Exchange is the world’s most popular email software for business.  It runs on servers while end users access their email using the Outlook program.  Exchange has been around for many years and is used in small businesses as well as large.  Microsoft’s plans for Exchange are to continue to make it more of an enterprise-class email system that can run the largest corporations in the world.  The challenge for a smaller business is how to use a program that continues to increase in cost and complexity with each new version.  IT Service Providers, like Network 1, are experienced in supporting Exchange but as the complexity of the software continues to increase along with the necessary uptime requirements for email in a business environment, it creates a real challenge.  Many are finding a solution to be a “hosted” Exchange server.  In a hosted environment, the customer stores their email on a shared server located in a secure data center and running on equipment that is much more expensive and robust than a typical small business can afford.  Additionally, the software and hardware is maintained and upgraded by expert engineers.  This is all done for a fixed monthly cost that is usually somewhat more expensive as a company would spend owning its own Exchange server, but with the added increased uptime and reliability of having their email stored in a secured environment.

We are still in the early stages of the Hosted Exchange deployment but the move to Hosted Exchange is gaining momentum.  There have been some bumps along the way but we have seen gradual improvement over the years.

  • Reliability is still an issue since you’re dependent on the Internet to get to your email.
  • Tie-ins to phone systems and other applications are very limited.
  • Picking the right provider is important.  You have some of your most sensitive data sitting on their servers.  Is the ethical?  Are they financially stable?  Are they experts in Exchange or just providing the service as an add-on?
  • Moving to a different Hosted Exchange provider is costly and time-consuming.

In response to Google’s Gmail, Microsoft is getting into the Hosted Exchange business.  They have undercut the pricing of most competitors and some think they are simply going after market share only to raise the price down the road.  Network 1 is ready for the transition and has been discussing it with our clients over the past year or so.  Hosted Exchange isn’t for everyone.  But for some, particularly smaller businesses, it’s a great way to get a fixed cost and high availability for such an important application.  As an IT Management and IT outsourcing services company, Network 1 can assist your business with IT services and understanding technology.

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