The Long Wait for E-mail in the Cloud

Michael Vizard

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.

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Sep 24, 2010 12:07 PM James James  says:

This is a really interesting article, but I do have to say that we (Apptix) are seeing enterprise adoption of cloud email move forward-the recent year has shown us that enterprises are ready to make the leap into the cloud, even with the strategic value of email.  Part of our success is quite possibly the fact that we offer the same email solution as most organizations would deploy in-house (Microsoft Exchange) but with the ability to inexpensively add on extra services, like email encryption, compliance archiving, enhanced mobility, and so on.  Our biggest deal was a 100,000 seat enterprise, but we have many other 1,000-5,000 seat businesses making the transition as well.

I think that the adoption rate will speed up as soon as enterprise technology leaders realize that they can get the same tried-and-true services, like Exchange, in the cloud as they would in-house.  With the exception that the cloud services cost pennies on the dollar compared to in-house.


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