In our previous blog, we discussed the reasons why email in the Cloud makes good business sense. Now, let’s dig a little deeper to see further tangible benefits to using Cloud email and the two different methods that can be used to implement Cloud email.
The three email infrastructure categories
All email systems fall into one of three infrastructure categories: On-premises, Cloud, or Hybrid. Each has its pros and cons. The following table provides a concise list of the most important issues, positive and negative, that exist for each of the three email environments:
Email servers that organizations manage and configure themselves (the traditional approach).
- Total control and maximum data privacy.
- Easier integration with other on-premises systems.
- Expensive initial investment for servers and setup.
- Requirement to maintain a server management skill set that does not add unique value to the business.
Can be deployed through software-as-a-service or through a managed hosting provider.
- No need for dedicated staff to manage internal email servers.
- Ability to scale user count up and down, adjusting total cost.
- Always up-to-date.
- Without the need for an email client, mobile devices can be integrated into the workplace more easily.
- Increased bandwidth requirements.
- Loss of physical control over email.
- Ongoing per-user costs.
Includes both on-premises and off-premises infrastructure. Information and application reside in different places: on-premises or the Cloud.
- Highly flexible.
- Some aspects are Cloud-based and others are completely on-premises, depending on the requirements.
- Some Merger of two different cost models (on-premises and Cloud) makes it difficult to maintain a low total cost of ownership.
The difficulties with a traditional on-premises email infrastructure
1. The past
By far, the most common form of email infrastructure has been the “on-premises” type, which has been used for upwards of 30 years. This model was originally created to be used for email within a single business and typically consists of:
- One or more email servers (depending on the number of mailboxes in use).
- Network server software for controlling access and security (such as Microsoft Windows Server with Active Directory).
- An internal network that could span one or more buildings/sites (connected via private telco lines such as T1).
- User computers running dedicated email client software such as Microsoft Outlook.
2. The internet age
Once the Internet became viable, many businesses saw the advantage of using email with remote users and between companies, and accordingly expanded their systems. However, expanding an on-premises email environment introduced several new challenges:
- The need for a firewall to protect the internal on-premises network from the “wild west” environment of the Internet.
- Further security systems, such as anti-virus and anti-spam systems, were required.
- The need to add support for remote email devices that sometimes required specialized servers (e.g. BlackBerry) or add services to existing email servers (e.g. Outlook Web Access).
These demanded further expenditures for both deployment and maintenance as well as adding risks such as multiple points of failure.
Comparison: Cloud vs. Hybrid
In recent years, more and more companies are turning to email environments that include the Cloud, either via a full Cloud email model or a Hybrid model. Each has its own advantages so deciding which environment makes the most sense for a business needs to be weighed carefully.
1. Full cloud email architecture
- Cloud email shifts most of the operation of the email infrastructure to a third-party (such as Microsoft).
- Services include spam protection and service provision.
- Be aware that integration with authentication services such as Active Directory remains a challenge.
2. Hybrid email architecture
- Hybrid email architectures enable administrators to deploy some email boxes on traditional on-premises hardware and some in the Cloud.
- The challenge is determining which boxes should be deployed where.
- Use a hybrid architecture as a way of transitioning to full Cloud email.
- Hybrid email also appeals to enterprises that need to give additional protection or archiving to a subset of users.
Making that key email environment decision
Moving your email environment away from an on-premises environment to the Cloud, whether a full Cloud environment (such as Microsoft Office 365) or a Hybrid environment that utilizes email services in both the Cloud and on-premises, is a major decision an organization needs to make.
ProServeIT are based in Canada and has helped many organizations make the right decision to meet their needs.