smb-tech-trendsIs your email on premise or hosted? Any plans to make a change this year?  In its “Catching up to the Clouds” report issued last June, IT pro community Spiceworks noted that among small businesses “email is getting some new digs.”  Among the 500 IT professionals from small and midsize businesses in North America and EMEA surveyed for the report, hosted email deployments grew to 46 percent in 2013 from 42 percent in 2012. Over the same period, on premise email deployments decreased to 49 percent from 52 percent.

The move to hosted services reflects the growing adoption of cloud-based services on the part of small and mid-sized business for a number of reasons, the Spiceworks survey points out. Most notably cloud-based email:

  • Reduces IT staff burden – 67 percent
  • Makes email accessible anytime – 61 percent
  • Offers built in backup and archiving – 59 percent
  • Saves money – 52 percent
  • Easy to deploy– 51 percent

Reasons holding small and mid-sized businesses back from adoption of cloud-based email services were concerns over a lack of control and security and compliance issues.

What to know about moving email to the cloud

cloud computing with laptop and smartphoneIf you are among those small businesses that plan to move your on-premise email to the cloud, TechTarget provides suggestions for evaluating providers. Here are some of them:

  • Evaluate options:  Consider the various cloud email configurations offered by different vendors. Do trial runs of several that could work for your needs. Select a group of your team to run a pilot.
  • Consider infrastructure: TechTarget advises you consider the complex infrastructure involved in providing business-class email. For example, find out if the provider supports such infrastructure-heavy email processes as archiving, searching and long-term retention of data indexing.
  • Take the cloud view: Before you make any switch be sure that the cloud vendor can provide anti-spam or antivirus protection or messaging gateway functionality better and more cost-effectively than your own organization can.
  • Be price-savvy: TechTarget cautions to be aware of vendors that have low starting prices and overage charges.

In all cases, when moving any of your company operations to the cloud, ask potential vendors about:

Security: Security is not only critical in terms of running your business; many laws today require you to protect the personal information of your customers. Find out what precautions a provider takes to protect data from security breaches, including encryption and firewalls as well as onsite security and possible natural disasters. Does the vendor back up data at more than one location, for example?  Also ask how soon you can expect to be notified if there is a data breach.

Performance: Will the offering be able to scale as your business grows. You want to make sure the performance is at least equal or better than managing email on your own.

Availability:  Downtime is something you can’t afford. Ask about uptime guarantees; in fact, find out if you get money back if the service goes down.  You also need to know who to contact if there is downtime or if you will be relegated to an automated call tree.

As TechTarget says, “When it comes to cloud email migration, you need to do a lot more than just move mailboxes.”  Do your homework, run some trials and take your time in preparation and planning to ensure a successful move to the cloud.