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SMB email outsourcing guide, and choosing an email service provider

Due to budget constraints, SMBs are turning to email outsourcing. In this guide, learn if email outsourcing is right for you and find tips on choosing an email service provider.

In the current economic climate, organizations -- especially small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) -- sometimes struggle to maintain top-of-the-line services on shoestring budgets. Luckily, email service providers are making it easier by increasingly offering cloud-based services. But how do you decide if email outsourcing is right for you? While the financial benefits may be pretty clear, organizations need to carefully consider several factors before trusting email hosting to an outside vendor.

In this guide, you can find tips to help you determine if email outsourcing is right for your SMB. We also a provide a list of some of the more well-known email outsourcing options and talking points to utilize as you begin interviewing providers.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

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  Email outsourcing cost benefits and criteria
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Perhaps one of the first centralized services in many organizations, email -- along with associated services such as calendaring and contact management -- is quickly becoming a staple cloud service with offerings available from many companies, including Microsoft, Google Inc., IBM and even VMware Inc. The topic of email outsourcing is constantly discussed and is being actively undertaken by colleges and universities as both Microsoft and Google provide free services under Live@EDU and Google Apps.

Obviously, not every vertical enjoys free offerings from these companies, so money plays an important role in the email outsourcing decision. But while the financial benefits may be pretty clear, organizations need to carefully consider several factors before deciding to offload what is a business -critical function.

Learn more in "Considering email outsourcing? Determine cost benefits and criteria." Also:

  Steps for choosing an email service provider
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Organizations struggle with internal IT services, trying to provide world-class services on bottom-line budgets. While IT staff members do their very best in these tough situations, the results often fall short of requirements. Fortunately, new technologies and outside hosting providers are making it easier to provide high-quality service on small budgets -- the one major difference being that the service may no longer be hosted within your internal organization.

An excellent example is email hosting. When you put in an email infrastructure -- especially for a complex email system such as Microsoft Exchange -- you need to plan for a redundant infrastructure, running a minimum of two servers, each covering for the other so that your email system is always up and running, and your users can be as productive as possible. Email hosting is a simple step and a valuable way to reduce internal IT costs for organizations of all sizes. However, since email is often the lifeblood of an organization, choosing an email service provider should not be undertaken lightly.

Find out more in "Five steps to take when choosing an email hosting provider." Also:

  • Why midmarket companies are moving to cloud email and cloud services
    SearchCIO-Midmarket.com spoke with Erik Dubovik, vice president of IT at Audax Group LP, a Boston-based private equity firm, about trends that are driving midmarket companies to adopt cloud computing services.
  • Enterprises look beyond Gmail, cloud for email outsourcing services
    Enterprise organizations have been somewhat slower than midmarket companies to adopt outsourced email due to the prevalence of legacy systems and concerns about handing over control of a mission-critical system like email. But those views appear to be changing, as enterprises recognize that they can achieve some of the traditional benefits of outsourcing in a new sphere.
  Email service provider options
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The mantra of 2010 seems to be cloud computing, and one of the most obvious applications of cloud technology is email. Unless your business is to provide email to folks, the money and time you're investing in your email infrastructure is likely a cost center -- not a core value proposition for your business.

If you're considering an email service provider, here is a quick guide of a few more well-known options, and some talking points to winnow down your list as you begin interviewing providers.

Learn more in "Google Apps, Hosted Exchange and other email service provider options." Also:

  • Five top concerns about cloud service providers
    The cloud computing ecosphere is a noisy neighborhood. How can CIOs cut through the hype and choose the provider for their needs? Here, we look at five top concerns, with advice from IT executives deep in the trenches, as well as from industry experts.
  • IT managed service providers: Taking a measured approach
    IT managed service providers can help your organization tap into technologies you couldn't access otherwise, but how do you bring them into your team? A CIO explains.
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