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Deploying hybrid cloud email: What you need to know

Matthew W. Cain | Nov. 8, 2011
Email/calendar systems are the most important communications channels for enterprises, and deliver a reliable, cost-effective and secure mechanism for collaboration. An email system is typically used for a decade before suppliers are changed: organizations should apply significant due diligence in selecting an email system, given the criticality of email to their overall health.

Interoperability -- Common email functions -- such as free and busy calendar lookups, calendar and mailbox delegation, distribution lists and contact sharing -- must be able to span both provisioning models.

Application integration -- There may be a requirement for simple application needs -- such as receiving voice mail in the in-box -- to be uniformly available across both cloud and on-premises models.

Help desk -- Help desks will need the same access rights, problem resolution scripts and escalation procedures for both models.

Security -- Common security needs -- for example, for multifactor authentication, TLS, password rule enforcement, virus scanning and access to logs -- will need to be consistent across cloud and on-premises deployments.

Content control -- Integration with records management, data loss prevention, keyword filtering and archive services should span both models.

Federation -- Companies often federate email services with business partners to create collaboration efficiencies. Cloud services should support the same federation services as the local model.

Versioning -- Organizations need to be cognizant of the implications of the different software versions. Microsoft, for example, requires that an Exchange 2010 Client Access Server be deployed in an Exchange 2007 infrastructure to accommodate full hybrid services with Exchange 2010 in the cloud.

Licensing -- Cloud suppliers must accommodate the business requirement for a single license agreement covering both models.

Redundancy -- Directory links and network paths between on-premises and cloud systems need to be fully redundant to eliminate single points of failure.

Rumors of the death of email continued apace, but we maintain our position that social media and email are on a path of co-evolution and convergence, rather than a zero-sum game. There is also the insidious notion that email is a commodity, which we believe leads to an underestimation of the complexity of email, and hence a lack of due diligence in evaluating cloud email services.

About Matthew W. Cain

Matt Cain is a vice president at Gartner, where he is the lead email analyst. His coverage includes all collaboration modalities as well as collaboration theory. Cain has focused on the email market for more than 20 years, watching it shift from mainframes to LANs to client/server platforms. He no focuses on helping organizations determine when moving email to the cloud is appropriate.


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