Email is an essential communication tool for most businesses. While email services have traditionally been provided on-premises, an increasing number of companies are moving their email services to the cloud. Almost 60 percent of businesses worldwide now use either Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite, according to the Bitglass 2016 Cloud Adoption Report. Office 365 is deployed in 34.8 percent of organizations, while G Suite is used by 24.5 percent.

A key motivator for making the move, especially for small and midsize businesses, is reducing costs. However, if you are considering moving your business’s email services to Office 365, G Suite, or another service provider, you should weigh all the pros and cons.

The Advantages

Between 2015 and 2016, Office 365 and G Suite usage rose 11 percent, according to the Bitglass 2016 Cloud Adoption Report. This increase is largely due to the advantages that online email services offer, including:

  • A secure email environment: Storing data in the cloud is a relatively secure practice, according to experts. Plus, cloud computing has matured to the point where there are now standards (e.g., ISO/IEC 27018) that service providers can follow to prove they are properly handling data in a secure manner.
  • Reduced capital expenditures and human resource costs: When companies use online email services, they do not need to purchase servers or software licenses. Plus, they do not have to pay staff to manage and maintain the email environment.
  • High reliability and availability: Most cloud-based email service providers have redundant systems to ensure their email services are highly reliable and available. For instance, both Office 365 and G Suite guarantee 99.9 percent uptime.
  • Built-in backups and archiving: Businesses that use online email services do not have to worry about backing up and archiving emails. The service providers automatically take care of these tasks. Plus, the backup files are stored off-site, which is an important aspect of any disaster recovery plan.
  • Effortless scalability: With cloud-based email services, companies only have to pay for the email services they currently need. If their business grows, they simply need to contact their service provider to scale up their email services.

The Disadvantages

While using cloud-based email services has many advantages, it is not without some drawbacks, such as:

  • Data not managed and maintained by employees: When businesses host their own email services, they get to select the employees responsible for managing and maintaining the email environment. With online email services, the provider takes on these responsibilities and businesses have no control over who is working with their data.
  • No Internet, no email service: With cloud-based email services, no Internet service means employees cannot send or receive emails internally or externally. In contrast, with an on-premises email server, users can still send and receive emails internally (i.e., within the company’s local area network) when the Internet goes down. External emails still cannot be sent or received, though. “No Internet, No Email Service” is also a disadvantage for on-premise email servers, not just cloud email providers.
  • Some loss of control: When businesses use online email services, they lose control over some aspects of their email environment. For instance, they have no control over where their data is being stored and when software upgrades are applied.
  • Fees add up: Over time, the subscription fees for online email services add up. On top of the basic fee, service providers often charge additional fees to perform administrative tasks, such as adding or removing mailboxes.

You Should Weigh the Pros and Cons

Whether moving your email services to the cloud makes sense for your business will depend on many factors, including the number of employees, types of emails sent and received (e.g., whether they often contain sensitive data), and your IT environment. We can help you weigh the pros and cons based on your business’s needs.