Email complexity in the cloud – moving it up or out?

By Kendal Watt, Mimecast South Africa’s Senior Pre-Sales Engineer  

Email has developed rapidly since the first message was sent in 1971 between two computers that were literally right next to each other. While it’s more than common nowadays for people sitting right next to each to use email rather than turn around and chat, the difference is that their messages now go through a network of servers, have disclaimers and marketing material attached to them, are scanned for viruses, checked against spam blacklists, filtered for ‘content violations’, and then archived for up to ten years before they drop into the mailbox three feet away. 

Cloud computing offers fantastic alternatives to the nightmare and cost of on-premise email management but not all cloud computing solutions are equal. By taking care of the detail when choosing a service provider, IT teams can make sure their email management partner offers simplicity, costs savings and time for IT managers to do things other than manage quarantine folders.

So how does a CIO go about interpreting the promise and the reality of cloud computing for the business and making the right choices about which applications to put into the cloud and with whom?

Here are five important questions to ask your cloud computing service provider:

  • How many different technologies are there in this ‘one’ solution?

The best cloud computing solutions are those built on a single technology platform - one set of source code that drives every module. This ensures management simplicity, effective performance and reduces single points of failure.

In addition, the modules are designed to work together and have not been forced together with bits of middleware or custom code. When software is forced together there is the potential to reduce the overall functionality by abstracting the control layer of each component and changes in business model of each component. Essentially – nothing works as well together as it could on its own.

  • Service level agreements – how far will they go?

Is your service provider willing to take as big a risk on their software as you are? Punitive SLAs prove the trust the company has in their offering. Does the proposed solution’s SLA go beyond the service of the organisation delivering the solution and extend to the performance and scalability of the actual applications? Why should you put your business at risk, if the service provider will not?

  • What impacts the cost of the solution?

The cost of the total solution depends on the cost of each individual component. When talking to a service provider that has developed the technology from the ground up from one single technology platform there is only one person to negotiate with.  Best of breed solutions are at the mercy of the component provider’s sales rates and therefore less able to provide compelling cost to value offerings.

  • What do other people think?

This is not just about service delivery and whether the help desk actually helps and the customer call centre care about its customers. It’s also about business sustainability. With legislation and regulation demanding increased data storage and interrogation ability, its vital to ensure the solution you select today will still be operational and relevant in a decade. While this is not impossible to predict, making an informed choice by looking at the track record and talking to other clients will reduce the threat of a wasted investment.

  • Can I trust you?

Transparency remains a major factor in the success of cloud technology adoption, particularly as a means of building confidence amongst enterprise CIOs that their data is safe and secure in the cloud. Cloud providers need to put their weight behind meaningful industry initiatives- such as STAR and ISO27001-that can turn ‘trust’ from an intangible to a tangible purchasing criterion.

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