Business Email 101 – Step 1: In-House Or Hosted Email?

Last week, we released the free Business Email 101 Guide to help you think through the decisions involved in choosing the right business email strategy. When considering your business email, the first decision you need to make is where to run it – on-premise or hosted. Your decision should take into consideration three very broad areas that we’ll eventually bring into focus as we move through the guide. The three areas to consider are:

Features: What Does Your Email Need to Do?
A high-level assessment of the features you need in email may reveal expertise or technology gaps that require heavy capital investments to remedy. If you’re already deployed on-premises, consider the little annoyances that users complain about and if it makes sense to address them with valuable in-house time and resources or to offload to an email provider. For example, if users are clamoring for instant push for mobile, do you really want to spend the budget and time to stand up advanced mobile accessibility on-premise, or does it make more sense to seek out a provider to fill the need?

Value: How Much are You Really Paying For It?
With non-revenue generating apps like email, businesses sink money in, but don’t gain a competitive advantage from having email that works. However, they risk their reputation and security when email doesn’t work. Deciding whether to shoulder the burden of on-premise email or to choose the freedom of cloud hosted email can be a cost-driven decision.  Tapped out infrastructure resources or a shortage of expertise for an upgrade make the cost and time savings of cloud even more attractive. But cost isn’t the only measure of value.

Most businesses are unaware of the total costs of email-specific IT assets and associated expenses. A security patch that only accounted for an hour of labor to perform, if done incorrectly, could open you up to a breach that costs thousands. The power and cooling that go into running a mail server along with the software, labor, floor space and responsibility involved usually outweigh the value of running it on-premises.

Support: How Much Do You Need?
If there’s an email server outage on-premise, can you afford to lose time troubleshooting or waiting for a consultant to arrive? Cloud email options can turn panicked troubleshooting into a quick phone call to the provider that handles it for you. Of course, that assumes you’ve picked a responsive provider. Not all providers approach support the same way. Some lure customers in with cheap prices only to find out that when there’s an issue, there’s no one to call after hours or that the only support available is volumes of online documentation. Determining the level of support you need based on how much in-house expertise exists and the level of control you need impacts the type of providers you’ll look for down the line.

For the five most important questions to ask and TCO comparisons, check out our Business Email 101 Guide or for a quick high-level evaluation, take the In-house vs Hosted interactive quiz.

Lizetta Staplefoote is a Rackspace Marketing Copywriter with a decade of experience writing about small business challenges for healthcare, real estate, and technology. Her passion is researching and writing about the impact of cloud computing. When she's not wordsmithing, she enjoys hanging out with her sons, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and feeding her music addiction.


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