Question #1: Does Cloudsourcing Email Make Sense?

For SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) I would definitely advise against an on-premise (Exchange) mailserver. Not only is there the Capex cost of buying and the Opex cost of hosting the server, keeping Exchange operational requires quite a bit of expertise and patching. In other words, you’ll waste a lot of money on paying your administrator who has to divide his attention between the Exchange server(s) and many other IT tasks. E-mail must be about the most essential IT tool your employees have, so it is not wise to take any risk there.

I’ll focus on the two options I have experience with: a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange or Gmail for Business. Contrary to popular belief, Gmail for Business is quite different from the Gmail that we are all using. Gmail for Business is not datamined by Google, and no ads are displayed. It is also hosted on an infrastructure that offers higher availability and security than the regular Gmail. Costing only $50 per user per year for a 25 GB (!) , Gmail is easily two times less expensive than a hosted Exchange account with far less storage space.

The best argument against outsourcing e-mail to the cloud is also gone: Gmail for Business also comes with enterprise support. And Google also works with partners now, so you can get local support too. We are working together with Romneya for example, a Belgian Google Partner.

Support for mobile devices is pretty good: the blackberry enterprise server is supported very well and Gmail works – of course - fine with Android based mobile devices too. Google’s solution is also far superior when it comes to searching thousands of e-mails. For example, our exchange server still does not get that “Johan De Gelas” and “De Gelas Johan” are the same person. When searching, I am never sure I get all the mails I am looking for.

The only thing where I find our Exchange server to be slightly better is the scheduling events in calendar since the exchange server is integrated with the Active directory server.

Gmail is in my experience highly reliable. Gmail for business offers a 99.9% SLA, and I can’t remember any downtime since we started using it 2 years ago. No on-premise server can come even close, and even the hosted solutions can not offer this degree of availability.

So e-mail in cloud makes a lot of sense. It is much cheaper, easier, offers more storage, is more secure and reliable than any on-premise or hosted server. I am quite skeptical of some cloud services, but I can recommend placing your mailserver in the cloud.

Question #2: Benefits/Disadvantages for Website on Amazon EC2
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  • erple2 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    It does, until you realize that the points it raises are not actually for Google Apps for Business (part of the suggested Google Mail for Business component on page 1), but for plain, free gmail.

    So, the points that the blogger raises are, IMO, not valid for this discussion.
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    None of the arguments are accurate for Gmail for business, except the calendar comment. Also, gmail is a lot smarter when it comes to spam than Exchange. I have both, and Exchange requires me to a lot of business contacts to "safe sender", although I have exchanged e-mails with them before. Otherwise it ends up in the Spam bin. So Exchange is not a business tool?

    Certified Microsoft Partner, worked for MSDN. while that is not enough to discredit the blog, the inaccurate statements do the rest.

    For example, You can get Support via Google Partners, and in the US direct Enterprise support is available.
  • jimbob1001 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    cloud computing is not great for everyone. For our 100 employee business office and windows + CAL costs around £26 per PC. Exchange is about £100 and server £50 - these are for the licences. The SSL cert if probably more expensive (silly exchange 2007 one). The server does other things but raw licences work out at substantially less than google. The server would stay anyway. It has have precisely ZERO downtime other than automatic updates on a saturday evening. I have intervened ZERO times for exchange.

    If we were to look at cloud computing then our 2meg SDSL+ ADSL backup (loadbalanced for webaccess) would not be enough. We would need more upload. nTOP shows that the traffic averages 3-5mb constantly with periodic spikes of 10mb+

    We couldnt afford larger connections and we arent in a cable internet area. ADSL is typically 10/1mb. Dont even start on hosting data online.
  • iwod - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    I could never understand why Gmail for Business cost so much.
    Most of our company email account are well below 1GB storage. With the largest being 3GB.
    We dont mind Ads. ( As long as you dont data mine our email )

    Our Company has over a 100 employees, that is $5000 per year for what i consider VERY light email usage.

    In our cases, it doesn't make any business sense to use Gmail Business at all.
  • DanNeely - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    It depends on what you're using email for. Sending attachments can add up fast. As a minion level employee, my pst file at work is ~3GB after 6 years. My program manager says back in the outlook 03 era he had to create a new pst yearly to avoid a >2GB data corruption bug.
  • Penti - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Just to add you can get a hosted Exchange account from something like $10-12.5 per month with 2GB inbox. However it quickly gets costly if you add larger inboxes, sharepoint websites, mail to the phones and archiving. It might end up costing something like 200 dollars per user and year. For basic exchange email with calendaring, task and mail and mobile sync. Google Apps is cheap in comparison. Google apps with archiving would cost something like 83 USD per user and year. If your just after IMAP-mail it's the wrong solution to pay for those services though.
  • iwod - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Now $10 - 12.5 per year sounds MUCH more reasonable. To be honest we never looked at Hosted exchange account.

    And it depends if 2GB X100s will be shared between all of us, or strictly 2GB per user.

    But Most of our users uses 1GB after 3 - 4 years. So i think I will look at M$ soon.
  • Penti - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

  • Penti - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    And how much does your exchange setup cost? Stand-alone Exchange CALs is $67. Enterprise CALs is cheaper on the other hand is the exchange enterprise license much more costly. Might end up much the same cost if put out over three years. But hosted exchange starts at 5 USD a month any how. Office 365 at 6 USD might be a much better deal though. But as said compared to other competing services google apps isn't expensive. Hosted exchange can cost several times what Microsofts own services costs.
  • Grudin - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    My one issue with cloud computing is security. It is the same issue I have had for a long time. For public insecure information it makes perfect sense. At this time I am basically running my own private cloud for our business and thats ok by me. Yes I have to do all the overhead that goes along with it, but I know my information is secure.

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