18
May

Email In The Cloud Services: When And How?

In lectures and meetings with various companies, I have been observing that Cloud has begun to position it self on the radar of executives and be a part of plans for medium and long term. And one of the issues that  they are looking to answer is “Where To Start?“.

What kind of applications are initially to be put in the clouds?

Well, many are thinking of starting a “client in the cloud.” It is a scenario that is already common in the environment of end users who already use Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Flickr and other services available in the cloud regularly. Store mailboxes, texts, pictures and videos on the cloud and access them from any device, without being tied to the internal disks of a single computer is an attraction that draws more and more end users.

Seems clear that this scenario can and probably will also widespread in the corporate environment.

Advantages?

Access your data from any device, whether a veteran desktop to a smartphone or tablet, little or no demand for wasteful and unproductive work to implement and maintain different versions of software, ranging from operating systems to office suites in hundreds or thousands of machines, more centralized management of applications running on client devices and, above all, know that if a laptop is lost or stolen, the data will be safe, since they are not stored in it, which is the very positive point that generated much interest.

The starting point for thinking about “client in the cloud” is the ubiquitous Email. One of the main reasons to consider Email in the cloud are significant economies of scale that can be achieved with this computational model. Most companies no longer have hundreds or thousands of users, while cloud providers can provide these services to tens of millions of users. Thus, with data centers with “lights-out operations” and immense processing power and storage can offer services of Email at very low prices, reaching the limit to zero!

The result is that when you compare the cost per user, the cloud model offers much lower cost. Moreover, due to budget constraints and economies of scale, the internal Email cannot provide large storage capacities. It is common to compare an internal Email limited to 300 or 500 MB per user with an Email in the cloud with 25 or 30 GB. The cost per GB in the cloud is greatly less by economics of scale and therefore the provider can offer, at minimal cost, much more storage capacity.

The cost of services “client in the cloud” tends to fall further, especially because there is a disruption in the business model of traditional software industry known as the Google effect. For Google, its offerings GAPE (Google Apps Premier Edition) is non-profit, but to substantiate its business model based on revenue from advertising. It is a strategic move and not a profit-oriented.

Compared to the typical business model of traditional “client in the PC, like Microsoft, we see that its revenue comes from these sales of licenses of its software. Even offering these services in the cloud model, their source of revenue is the service offered by the software, not advertising and therefore cannot afford to get a very low price. It is the Freemium model par excellence.

This becomes even more real when we have the goods with a marginal cost near zero, such as digital goods (music, movies, content). These assets are offered free with the intention to achieve some other benefit. What does Google do? GAPE offers in exchange for the expansion of a new model (cloud), which is positioned favorably in the market, because this model boosts its business model. With this asymmetry in the business scenario, it is difficult to compete with the traditional model.

But if the mail is going into the cloud computing, how it occurs? From one day to another?

In my opinion the development will be gradual. The pioneers are the smaller companies. The reason is simple: cost per user has increased by the absence of economies of scale, and hence the economic attractiveness of going to the cloud is also higher. Also, it usually requires less customization.

The model of multitenancy Email in the cloud makes customization more difficult and is a complicating factor for larger companies, which besides having a lower cost per user (larger scale) are more applicants for highly customized environments. Larger firms are, with few exceptions, late adopters of this model.

A question arises. It will be an all or nothing model, i.e., 100% of Emails will be in the clouds?

Possibly in the distant future may be, but at least in the foreseeable future, no. We provided companies with 100% Email in the clouds where others will be more economically advantageous to keep their Email servers internally, and others with the hybrid model, with part of your Email in the cloud and part on-premise. An example? A university may put the mailboxes of thousands of its students in a cloud and maintain internal Email for their teachers and administrative staff.

But how to proceed?

Define a strategy to put the Email in the cloud cannot be made lightly. There are some cautions to be observed. One is the hidden costs. Although Email in the cloud has a much lower price per user, there are some costs that do not appear immediately.

Examples?

Increased use of networks and broadband migration of the internal environment to the cloud, and remember that you still need to maintain a minimum of support staff, smaller than traditional in-house environment, but nevertheless still necessary, particularly Help Desk level 1 and for managing the interface with the cloud providers.

The contract must be well analyzed and some items deserve further attention as a cost for long retention of backup (archiving) and cancellation of the contract (and move to another cloud). There is also a legal issue. Your mailbox may be stored in a data center located in another country. In this case, under which jurisdiction the legal issues are resolved. And if there is a forensic investigation, as the data might be available.

When information is stored in a cloud, it will ultimately be stored on a dedicated server and a storage device residing at a physical location, which may be in another country, subject to different laws. Moreover, for technical reasons, this information may migrate from one server to another server, both in different countries. Nothing prevents the law of such country from accessing stored information even without the consent of its “owner.”

For example, the anti-terrorism legislation or the legislation to combat child abuse in many countries allows access to personal information, without notice, in case of legal evidence of criminal acts. The point is that the concept of cloud computing is recent, and current legislation still poorly understands the Internet and is much farther to understand the cloud.

Paradigm is still in the days when PCs were living at the most isolated stage and exchanged diskettes. Grasping a desktop for forensic investigation, whose content is in the clouds, it’s totally irrelevant. And how to get the information of virtual hard disks, spread over many cloud providers?

Another important concern: Security and integration with applications that interact with your Email.

Anyway, enter the world of Email cloud services. Create a specific project, clearly determine the goals (to reduce costs), Identify their internal costs per user and compare providers, analyze the functionality differences between the resources offered by the internal Email and offered by cloud providers ( as level of availability), engage in the legal process, select the provider most appropriate and carefully study the contract.

ESDS

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