Thinking of migrating to the cloud in 2014? Many small-business owners are realizing the value of handling essential processes, such as storing data and maintaining the necessary hardware to do so, remotely. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions may be just the ticket to help you ride the waves of change and growth.
Small business owners often have big dreams. Whether that dream is to keep your business small or to grow it into a big business, you want your business to run as smoothly as possible – every step of the way. You might start your business as a sole proprietor with just a laptop and a few software programs. As your business grows and adds employees, you have to start thinking about security, backup, remote access, and coordination of effort.
One of the reasons small businesses switch to cloud-based software is to reap the benefits of big business infrastructure, without having to implement and manage it directly. Until recently, your software and servers almost always resided in your office, where they would be administered by your IT staff. This type of deployment is referred to as “on premise.” In the last several years, “cloud based” software has become more popular.
What Are IaaS and SaaS?
IaaS refers to the infrastructure of an off-site data center: hard drives, servers, and networking components. An IaaS provider maintains the equipment, renting space and services out to multiple customers. This allows small businesses to share in the costs of maintaining a data center and avoid the hassles of securing real estate and hiring staff to keep it running.
SaaS operates on the same premise but refers to software applications hosted in the cloud and accessed via the internet. Again, the SaaS provider handles all the security, maintenance, and upkeep off-site, allowing multiple customers to share in the costs and reap the benefits of a high-end program, such as a customer relationship management app.
Why Move Your Emails to Cloud?
The investment in SAN architecture is high. The added costs are servers, bandwidth and IT staff (staff also needs to be a failover cluster: if one admin is not available, the other admin has to carry on). And it does not stop here. From an operational perspective, the operating systems has to be upgraded, patched and hotfixed. The same goes for the e-mail application itself; be it Microsoft Exchange or Dovecot. These critical maintenance tasks are run on the servers, which are also critical themselves, expected to be 100% up and running. To move e-mail service to a e-mail service provider does not eliminate the criticality of the operations. Rather it puts the risk on the service provider, who is bound by the Service Level Agreement (SLA). From the service provider’s perspective, to meet the SLA requirements and to manage the risks, it needs to make the necessary investments, which normally would be done by your company.
This action does not invalidate holding IT staff to manage e-mail. In fact, by taking away the hardware, operating system and application maintenance responsibility of the servers from the administrators, which in fact do not have an added value, your IT staff will make better use of e-mail management and will be able to offer and support value added services. As an example you can think of employing e-mail administrators to work on document collaboration services with your users if you still do not have such a service.
Most chief officers (CFOs, CMOs, CEOs and CIOs) are concerned with the costs related to operating and maintaining IT platforms, especially the ones responsible for regular workloads like email and calendars. Cloud email can offer between 100 to 200 times more capacity (25 GB or more) than on-premises mailboxes, which get around 100 to 200 MB. This also includes antispam and antivirus protection that would save some of the budget that is being spent on security platforms.
So if you stop and think about it, should you really maintain your email on-premises? Here are five main reasons why moving your email to cloud is the best choice:
- Savings: There are no costs involved with hosting platforms, backups, upgrades, operation and maintenance.
- Simple and scalable: Cloud email can change to suit your needs.
- Monthly payments: Predictable expenses are available through monthly and annual subscriptions.
- Always updated: Cloud email will be updated and running with the latest releases.
- Secure: Security is provided through automated backups and a service level agreement (SLA).
This cloud move will bring financial benefits. You will be freed from making capital expenditures on SAN and servers. You will also be freed from the variable expenses, such as adding additional storage and servers when there is a growth in your business. In other terms, you will know your expenses up front: you will need to pay X amount dollars for every new user. Instead of investing X thousand dollars up front, it is more acceptable to distribute this expense over the months. This becomes especially important when a company is tight on cash or when the IT department needs to squeeze some dollars from its budget.