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November 17, 2014
“The cloud” often conjures up the notion of the hosted email services that have been available for years. While many of these services are quite useful and can offer reliable performance, business decision makers need to think of the cloud in a much broader context. Instead of thinking of the cloud as a collection of bolt-on services that can address specific point requirements, decision makers should view the cloud as more like a set of services that can let their companies focus on their core competencies by letting specialist providers manage the IT services that enable people to communicate and collaborate. Fundamentally, this is no different than letting a specialist provider generate the electricity that companies use to power their internal IT infrastructure.
Certainly, one of the most important services that cloud providers can offer is business-grade email. Because email is the most widely used communication tool in business– employed by the typical user for 134 minutes each workday1 – email often is typically the initial service that decision makers will implement as they move their IT infrastructure into the cloud.
However, the right business-grade email provider can offer much more than email, including:
  • Inbound and outbound security
    Inbound anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-malware filtering; as well as outbound content filtering that can detect content that should be encrypted or that should not be sent without supervision.
  • Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony services
    Services that can support traditional VoIP handsets, as well as soft phones that can enable telephony using mobile or desktop platforms.
  • Instant messaging
    Secure instant messaging services that will enable presence management and real time communications between employees, business partners and others in an IT-managed network.
  • Web conferencing
    Secure, desktop-sharing capabilities that will enable employees and others to conduct online meetings, training seminars, marketing Webinars and other real time events.
  • Encryption
    Manual and/or policy-based services that will encrypt sensitive content to help an organization stay in compliance with regulatory requirements, state or provincial data breach requirements or industry best practice.
  • Compliance-focused archiving
    Services that will retain electronic content for purposes of compliance with regulatory or egal obligations. Ideally, archiving will include a) retention of all relevant business records in email, instant messaging, Web conferences, files, etc., as well as b) tools to aid in their production when required.
  • Collaboration and content synchronization
    Synchronization services that will enable data to be synchronized in near real time across multiple platforms for sharing by workgroups.
  • Backup services
    Online backup services that will automatically backup data to remote locations so that servers and client machines can be restored in the event of data loss.
  • Mobile device management
    The growing number of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, need to be managed according to corporate policies and best practices so that their content can be archived and so they can be remotely wiped if they are lost. A key element of managing mobile devices is the provider’s ability to support all popular mobile platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, etc. Because SMBs should expect their business email, contacts, calendars and files to be available and synced across all of their devices – and to be able to use any combination of mobile devices – the right business-grade cloud services company that offers 24×7 support will be able to satisfy this critical requirement. SMBs that use a business-grade cloud provider won’t need to set up, secure and manage their mobile devices internally.

More on the cloud next week

White Paper by Osterman Research

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