Don't Underestimate the Importance of Webmail

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Tips on Controlling Your E-mail So It Doesn't Control You

Web-based email has been around so long and is so ubiquitous that its importance may be underestimated. But it is important, and should be paid attention to. After all, employees use it for work-whether IT departments and C-level executives want them to or not.

It's interesting, however, that corporate webmail doesn't have the penetration that many folks probably think it does. Datamation and other sites report that a new Gartner study says that enterprise use of cloud-based email and collaboration services won't reach 10 percent until the end of 2014.

Cloud computing is used for much more than collaboration and email, of course. Still, it seems to be a rather low percentage given all the hype. The report says that the two cloud-based services won't favor the majority until 2020, when they will reach 55 percent market share.

A side benefit of the growth, according to a study by Google that was reported upon at smartplanet, is that using cloud infrastructure is 80 percent more energy efficient than reinventing the wheel in countless on-premise implementations. Email is, of course, everywhere and represents the foundation-along with voice -- of many organizations' communications infrastructures. That makes the level of organizations migrating their email to the cloud a significant issue.

Constructech, which reported on the same study, pointed out that Gartner's opinion is that cloud-based email still is in its infancy as an enterprise tool. It comments on the findings that Google is the catalyst to the growth. It points out that one of the ber-trends of the past decade-folks using physical and cyber consumer tools at work-will drive webmail over the long term.

The acendency of Gmail is discussed at EPR Internet News, and efforts by Microsoft to resurrect Hotmail are described at IT World Canada. Redmond's hand isn't strengthened by glitches, such as this early September outage that impacted Skydrive, MSN and Office 365 in addition to Hotmail.

Webmail is everywhere and, as such, is important. The best analogy is to copiers. These common devices have evolved and now are networked. Few people outside of IT notice, but copiers present significant security issues to which attention must be paid. Likewise, webmail is ubiquitous-even if its growth in the enterprise is slow. The ability of systems to operate securely, reliably and in compliance with regulations should be a priority concern of corporate planners.

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