Cloud-based email services such as Google mail, Microsoft's office 365 have many evangelists and for many businesses, it is the ideal solution for effective, low-cost email services. Without the need for maintaining your own email server, but many architects practices baulk at outsourcing all their email storage and management.
Architects offices tend to rely on email as a communication, documentation and data distribution system very heavily (read more about IT support for architects). Individual email accounts tend to be very large with many emails and lots of very large file attachments. Cloud email services are often priced or limited by data size, which can mean that the pricing isn’t always as attractive as it initially seems.
Architects often place heavy reliance on public folders to provide a shared resource of email data for the collaborative team working within an office. Again this creates a demand for large amounts of data storage and rules out some cloud email systems that don’t provide this facility.
Finally, architects need to put reliance on long term email data potentially to defend themselves against future claims. Such reliance on long term data storage, stretching for a decade or more can sit uneasily with a third party service that has grown up in a fraction of this time. Many practices find that keeping all email data in house and backing it up alongside their other server data remains the most comfortable means of data control.
Whilst it can make sense for an architects’ practice to keep its feet firmly on the ground when it comes to the location of their email server this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role for cloud-based services to enhance their email solution. An on-premise mail server has email security issues such as spam and viruses to deal with. Rather than downloading these to your server and dealing with them locally there is an attraction in filtering these out before they get to you. This avoids unnecessary loads on your server and retains more of the bandwidth on your Internet connection for other uses.
There are a number of companies providing these services (Mimecast, GFI Mail or Websense). They are usually sold on a per user per year basis either directly by the software company or through partners. Prices range around the £30 to £50 per user per year mark depending on the number of users and services that you require.
In addition to the anti-spam and anti-virus features, cloud-based email archiving can be provided by the same companies. This can ensure that a copy of all incoming and outbound email is captured and stored even if the timing means that it isn’t included in regular daily mail server backup.
Crucially some of these cloud email services also include email continuity to ensure that your business can continue to have a functioning email service even when your own premise server has a meltdown or just a temporary power cut! Using these cloud services offers you access to some of the clever features that a wholly cloud-based email service can provide whilst retaining the data capacity and long term security that following the traditional route of an email server in your own office can provide.