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Can Yahoo or Gmail help IT departments cut costs?

There’s a lot of good information in Linda Tucci’s report from the SIMposium 08 conference in Orlando this week, including an interview with Sunoco Inc. CIO and incoming Society for Information Management president Peter Whatnell discussing his company’s approach to budgeting in this recession. Sunoco prepared three budgets for next year: what IT would have proposed had the recession not occurred; what happens if the budget stays flat; and what a 20% reduction in budget would look like.

Here’s one part, toward the end of the story, that jumped out at me:

“One game changer [Whatnell is] pushing is using providers like Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. for email service. The move to cloud providers for email would eliminate the need for disaster recovery for email, since that is baked into the service. If the tradeoff is 90% of the service for one-tenth of the cost, this is an option CIOs must consider.”

Especially in a recession, CIOs and their technology departments are looking to cut costs. So why isn’t this option being discussed more often? Are companies just so used to Outlook and the like that they don’t consider alternatives? Is it because business addresses including and would appear unprofessional?

If it’s because of some of the well-known scares associated with using cloud email for business purposes, I fully understand. Remember when Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account was hacked? Nobody wants sensitive company information floating around channels that are not secure. Before overhauling one’s email-server approach, a CIO and his staff would need to methodically review and implement email policies aimed at protecting passwords and other personal information.

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