Last week, I wrote about how organizations should not move to the cloud simply because everyone appears to be, and that any decision pertaining to this should ultimately be a business one. I just came across a white paper by hosting e-mail provider Intermedia that discusses some common myths that stop people from moving their Microsoft Exchange installation to a hosted provider. In essence, it presents some compelling business arguments for moving into the cloud.
Being in this line of business, Intermedia obviously have a vested interest to argue this way. However, I found its reasoning to make sense, and I reproduce some of it below. For the full report, you can access the white paper in its entirety here (free registration required).
For now, let's look at some of them:
There is Less Risk of Downtime with an In-house Solution
Intermedia argues that most in-house solutions are poorly set up, and "comprised of a basic environment with one or two servers that have little or no redundancy to the Internet, no backup systems and no disaster-recovery solution in place." Of course, I'll be the first to agree that the described scenario is likely to be the state of affairs with SMBs.
However, "likely" hardly equates to "definitely." While many will find this unflattering description to be the norm at their workplaces, there also are many well-run SMBs out there with excellent disaster-recovery and backup procedures.
By the same token, a hosted service does not necessarily guarantee superior uptime. Of course, the clear advantage when it comes to a hosting provider like Intermedia would be its round-the-clock access to support personnel when an outage actually occurs, an area that SMBs are unlikely to match.
An In-house Solution is More Secure Than a Hosted Solution
The premise for this assertion is that SMBs have few incentives to keep themselves up-to-date with security updates. In terms of testing updates and scheduled sever downtime, this is also an area that hosted providers are probably better equipped to plan and execute. On the flip side, scheduled downtime for a hosted provider might not necessarily be favorable to customers, who might be in a different time zone.
Another often-missed advantage of a hosted solution though, would be that it effectively stymies the ability for curious employees or subordinates in the IT department to tap into the confidential e-mails of their supervisors or top executives.
An In-house Solution Offers More Control Than a Hosted Model
System administrators and IT managers know that while tasks such as adding users and resetting passwords from within Microsoft Exchange is hardly rocket science, the number of steps is sufficiently intimidating that workers outside the IT department have scant chance of doing it unsupervised.
The top hosted Exchange service providers on the market boast of easy-to-use administrative interfaces that even administrators with no technical training can manage. Ultimately, this is probably the most compelling advantage that I can see with the use of a hosted solution. It makes sense, for example, to empower the HR manager to create or delete user accounts as new staffers join or leave the company.
Do you agree with the above points? Feel free to add your views to the comments below.