One of the conventional pieces of wisdom about cloud computing is that it's ideal for delivering utilitarian applications such as e-mail. But the folks at Gartner would beg to differ about the suitability of the cloud for that because there is nothing utilitarian about e-mail in the enterprise.
According to Gartner analyst Tom Austin, e-mail is widely seen as one of the more strategic applications. As a result, he says it doesn't really lend itself that well to outsourcing in the cloud as does e-mail for consumers.
In fact, Gartner says that while some early adopters are using e-mail and collaboration services in the cloud, most won't even start this journey until 2012. And don't expect 50 percent penetration until as late as 2017 or a 65 percent adoption rate until 2020.
Obviously, there are many vendors counting on Gartner being wrong about this. But Austin says the real sticking point will be how ingrained e-mail has become in our business processes. That issue, coupled with security concerns, makes e-mail and collaboration software in the cloud a tough sell. We might see portions of the e-mail system, such as archiving for the compliance purposes, in the cloud. But both IT executives and business leaders, argues Austin, are lot more comfortable with on-premise e-mail.
That doesn't mean that customers are not piloting various cloud computing services. But it suggests these services will be the exception rather than the rule.