IBM will be rolling out its first hosted Lotus Notes service from today. According to an IBM spokesman, this is part of the company's effort to compete against Microsoft's hosted Exchange messaging service. In a bid to capture a broader market share, IBM is positioning its service as low as $8 per user per month, lower than Microsoft's $10 per user per month for its competing hosted Exchange service. I found the news interesting, as it is clear that both IBM and Microsoft are focusing on the SMB segment for their hosted services. Indeed, it does make the most sense for SMB-sized companies to switch from a traditional self-managed e-mail infrastructure to a hosted one.
Though the actual figure will obviously vary from organization to organization, any self-managed e-mail server entails costs ranging from the cost of acquiring the hardware server to the requisite software licenses. Also, since servers don't unpack themselves automatically, there is a need to pay contractors - or hire staffers - to get things up and properly maintained. Remember to factor in power, cooling and space, too.
My point is, after adding in hardware depreciation, you could be in a position where hopping onto the hosted e-mail service bandwagon is a lot cheaper overall than in-house counterparts.
In the past, companies could have argued that they were simply not comfortable with the reliability of the partners offering hosted Exchange. Well, this will change with Microsoft's own Exchange Online scheduled to be available by the end of the year. And of course, the above-mentioned Lotus Notes service will be hosted by IBM too.
If your organization is going through a major upgrade, then hosted e-mail services is something you might want to seriously examine.