Five reasons Australian email belongs in the cloud


opinion If your company or organisation is not currently considering migrating its email systems onto a cloud computing platform, then you’re in danger of being left behind.

That’s the conclusion I have reached after six months of closely following the Australian technology sector’s growing fascination with cloud computing, in all its variants and according to all the different definitions.

There’s a lot of hype around cloud computing at the moment. Giant companies like Fujitsu, CSC, Microsoft and more are jumping headstrong into the cloud as fast as they can, following the lead set by early cloud enthusiasts like and Google.

Giant private sector companies like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have spent a great deal of time and effort examining how cloud computing will affect their business. And even the conservative public sector is fascinated by the same topic.

Not all of the various hyped aspects of cloud computing will come to fruition. But of those, it looks like email will be the first one to really deliver on cloud computing’s promises of delivering a cheaper, more flexible and more innovative future than traditional IT infrastructure models have offered.

So whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, here are five reasons why your organisation should shift its corporate email platform into the cloud — as soon as possible.

1. Everyone else doing it: Just a few years ago, it was a rarity to find an Australian organisation which had migrated its email system onto a cloud computing platform. But over the past two years, things have drastically changed.

The email norm for new small businesses in 2010 is to setup a Google account and supply your employees with Gmail, and more and more companies are “going Google” in this way. In the education sector, it’s a similar case — almost every unversity has already picked a cloud email solution from Microsoft or Google over the past several years for students, and several education departments have as well.

In the corporate and public sectors, things are a little more unclear, but several high-profile customers — AMP, AAPT and this week Coca-Cola Amatil — have recently flagged migrations. And in the government sector NBN Co set tongues wagging when it opted for a hosted Exchange implementation upon its creation in mid-2009.

2. Local servers: There are now several companies — notably, CSC, which won its first high-profile cloud email client in AMP — providing cloud email solutions with servers hosted in Australia instead of in offshore datacentres (the kind that raise tricky data sovereignty issues).

Google still won’t host a Gmail datacentre in Australia, however. But some customers have expressly stated they don’t see it as a problem.

3. Generation Y is increasingly demanding it: Australia’s impatient internet generation has no patience for those that don’t get how the online environment is changing their lives, and is increasingly reaching management level after being born in the 1980’s.

Do you really want to be the IT manager who tells their top staff that they can’t access their email from whatever device they want — and that you can’t upgrade the server to Exchange 2010 because you don’t have the budget? Cloud email was made to solve all of these problems.

And if the server goes down, you can blame the vendor.

4. It’s cheaper — and sometimes free: Australian education sector chief information officers couldn’t believe how cheap it was to migrate their students onto Gmail and Live@EDU — it was almost as if they were being paid by the vendors to do so.

Now that phenomenon is coming to the rest of the market. Many small Australian companies can already get Google Apps for their domain name for free, and even if you do end up paying for the premium version, it’s only $50 per user per year.

If you factor in the extra time you won’t have to spend administering your own servers and the ease of use services like Gmail provide, you’ll quickly realise what the ROI is: Awesome. It’s not quite as good (as far as we can see) when it comes to Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite — but it’s probably still better than running your own Exchange server.

5. It’s a good excuse to finally get rid of Lotus Notes.

There are still a stack of Lotus Notes/Domino installations hanging around in Australian organisations. And while most CEOs won’t fork out for a migration off Lotus to a rival platform just to keep up with staff expectations, they will do so if you can demonstrate (through the cost and flexibility advantages of cloud) that it’s financially worth doing so.

If you can cut costs (or shift them into the operational budget) and keep staff happy and productive, the CEO and the board will fork out for a cloud email migration.

We don’t have anything against Lotus Notes, by the way. It remains a great email platform. But the email market is increasingly coalescing into a two-horse race around the more modern Gmail and Exchange platforms.

Image credit: Grzesiek Hidden, royalty free


  1. Unless you’re a law firm, accounting firm or medical practice SMB – where local data retention policies and compliance are still a big disincentive for handing off data into the cloud, even if it’s only e-mail. Especially when that e-mail needs to be stored locally as part of an electronic records management system.

  2. but what’s the case for SMEs?

    i hear & agree with what you’re saying. but let me respond to each point from from a small/medium business manager’s perspective who’ve gone the route of Windows Small Business Server where Exchange (& other server products) is built-in, and for the most part is straight-forward to setup & dead simple to keep running. there’s a lot of reasons to go SBS (max 75 seats); it’s much more cost-effective, in capital, implementation, & maintenance costs.

    (btw, in writing my reply, i’m reminded of that blog post you tweeted a couple of weeks ago highlighting the differences between small & big business.)

    1) ok, so all the big boys are doing it. so what?
    – i’ve got this Exchange thingy built-in to my server already.
    – my SBS is ALREADY IN THE CLOUD, i’ve got a decent pipe to the ‘net to facilitate all the same cool “cloud bullshit” remote & mobile-device features.
    – it’s relatively simple to use and i’ve got this local friendly Techydude to help me out with tricky stuff.
    – and i’ve got all this other data i need to store & backup anyway, & with Australia’s $/GB internet rates (don’t most business-grade xDSLs count uploads?) I sure as frak aren’t gonna be backing that up via ‘the cloud’, so, so what if my own Exchange email is part of that locally stored & backed-up data?

    2) this issue probably isn’t a significant distinction for the average SME, except for those who, as you mention elsewhere, may be subject to data sovereignty &/or retention laws.

    3) wha whut?? since when has Gen Y given a frak about email?!? but even if/when they do, WinSBS provides the email (& a whole lot of other) remote access features & multi-platform cloud-accessibility you mention.

    granted, you’ve got a valid point about not having to fork out several $k on new SBS s/w as soon as it’s available/stable, but placating GenY’s “i want everything now & i don’t care how much it costs you” is minor in the grand scheme of what keeps an SME operator awake at night.

    4) definitely cheaper, if looked at in isolation, and/or in a larger org where email is implemented as a discrete service on its own server(s) with its own corresponding licenses. but i’m arguing the SME with SBS position here, and as above, it’s already there & fairly simple to setup, run & backup all on the same infrastructure that already has to be there for half a dozen other IT services hosted in-house.

    but, exactly why is it “almost as if they were being paid by the vendors to do so”? sure they have major user-per-server consolidation efficiency, but i don’t think that accounts for the full $ difference. Google being Google, in what other ways is my business’s private data being used to subsidise this apparent price?

    5) very few SMEs ever went with Notes/Domino to begin with, & even fewer these days.

    so, i’m just not yet seeing the business case for an SME, at least one where SBS is a sensible option or already in place, to split off email to be hosted by someone else.

    sure, give me a 25/50/100/1000 :) Mbps symmetrical pipe to the net, then lets talk, when i can put a bunch of other stuff up on someone else’s piece of the ‘cloud’ where costs really would plummet compared to all this infrastructure i need to have in my office. but until then, segregating email just sounds like outsourcing the wheels of my car.

    • I think the point (and reason why) about using hosted email is that most [small] businesses don’t have the skills required to install, run and maintain their own IT systems, especially a reliable email platform, and they often outsource this to an IT services company.

      If you combine email hosting with managed email security, and do it in an OS neutral and standards based fashion (that excludes Exchange), and all at around $6/seat/month price point then it’s a very compelling offer.

      Take this comparison;

      Hosted email – $5.75 per user per month
      – includes mailboxes, AJAX webmail, iPhone/BlackBerry/WinMobile and Win/Mac/Linux support, 3 x Virus filters, 5 x spam filters, archiving (ediscovery) and business email continuity, unlimited tech support.
      – As good as 100% up time because their are email experts running it


      In house mail server – $hardware + $MS licenses + $tech person
      – It’s probably a Windows only solution with a single virus and spam scanner if you’re lucky and you have to pay for all that junk to come down your connection,
      – no archiving()ediscovery or business continuity features
      – if it goes wrong you have to fix it

      Obviously we’ve a vested interest in this because we provide these services, but we’ve also offered on premise mail solutions since 2005 as well, I can honestly say that our hosted email offerings are 20x more popular. I think Gmail’s explosion in user numbers testifies to the success of hosted email.

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