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Several years ago, we were using Lotus Notes/Domino as our email platform.  Cloud computing was only then just being dreamed about.  Then Google Apps For Business came on the scene and I began to wonder… is hosting our own email really such a great idea?  My conventional wisdom was that I needed to keep our data close, where I could control it, back it up, literally walk down to the server room and “see it” (those little electrons look really cool swimming around inside the server case).

We debated long and hard about download times, as we sometimes feel the need to send/receive large graphic file attachments.  One argument was that surely using a “cloud based” email system would slow our mails down significantly.  The annual cost comparison was very similar unless you did a full on total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis, in which Google won, hands down.  We finally decided to give it a try.  At least test it.

It has now been over three years since we switched.  I can’t imagine ever going back to our own Notes/Domino system.  I realize that there are a number of cases where an organization needs to fully control its email system (Large internal networks, HIPPA compliance, EU Data Protection Directive) but I can’t imagine why a relatively small organization should host its own email servers.  The cloud infrastructure does a much better job of managing all the technical aspects of mail than we ever could on our own.

The large attachment slow download times never seemed to materialize.  Our email throughput is as “zippy” as ever.   We don’t have to manage the server, and best of all, our users are happy.  Google has also recently changed its billing model so that we can spin up new email accounts for a short period of time without having to buy a full annual license.  This has been really helpful to accommodate our summer interns.

So, if you are still walking down to your server room to “see” your email server, go ahead and take it out of the rack, put it in the trash and take the plunge to cloud based hosted email.