Don’t Play Dice with Your Email

Mimecast and Gartner have teamed up to talk about moving your email to the cloud. We spent time talking to Gartner’s VP and lead email analyst, Matt Cain about the options available to CIOs for the future of their email; including running hybrid email environments with tried and tested services delivered from the cloud but the Exchange server remaining onsite.

The full video of our time with Matt Cain can be found on our website here.

Some interesting data emerged from the conversation, all of which points towards thinking about your email environment in a Hybrid IT model today, and Hybrid Cloud model tomorrow. Deploying in these Hybrid modes is a drive to mitigate risk and complexity, because email is a vital tool in your business information systems. In Cain’s words “organizations are treating email as a very strategic asset, a mission-critical asset, they're saying, the first rule of thumb with email is; don't play dice with your email system.”

So what causes this hesitancy to move your email infrastructure, wholesale, to the cloud? According to Cain, sometimes there is complexity in the existing environment of an enterprise that limits the flexibility they have for making a move to the cloud. Many enterprise organizations have spent years and millions of dollars building up a complex set of third party applications, routing policies, ethical walls and deeply integrated customizations. Simply switching this complexity off is not possible for large organizations. Conversely though, small businesses have the opposite setup, and can benefit from the cloud today given their more flexible infrastructure.

Cain also mentions problems with Cloud topology and security functionality as factors holding back investment. Topology problems arise when data is stored in one central DC – for international organizations, accessing inboxes on the other side of the globe might be a latency disaster waiting to happen. Security functionality, or lack thereof, in the cloud is important too; Cain mentions many cloud email hosting services are immature in their offerings, vital features like data encryption at rest and TLS may not exist.

There is tremendous pressure from the market to move to the cloud, and when combined with the questions being asked by the C-Suite – such as “why aren’t we in the cloud?” – there’s tremendous interest in working out how to migrate these essential services, like email, to the cloud. Cain predicts that the uptake may be more conservative though, with around 10% of enterprise email seats moving to solutions like Office 365 by the end of 2013.

In the face of these hand-brake issues for cloud adoption, what does Cain suggest we do? Firstly, it’s sensible to conduct a cloud readiness assessment. Ask your business how their email infrastructure is impacted by factors such as third party integrations, legal compliance and jurisdictional issues, where this move would sit in your current email investment cycle and how well does a core service like email integrate with other tools such as IM and collaboration.

Secondly, Cain’s advice is to consider a hybrid approach. Hybrid IT is the adoption of cloud services that augment your core on-premise platforms. In this instance, Cain advises moving some email services to the cloud – services such as email security, email archiving, DR and continuity, while keeping core email inboxes on-premise. This approach acts as a stepping stone to full cloud adoption allowing your enterprise to be satisfied the cloud email service you choose is fully mature.

Hybrid IT, plugging the cloud into your on-premise Exchange server, gives you the flexibility of moving your email environment wholesale to the cloud in the future. Importantly choosing mature cloud email management vendor like Mimecast to augment your on-premise infrastructure also gives your business support for a Hybrid Cloud model too, as Mimecast’s UEM platform augments Cloud solutions like Office 365 too.

Moving from Hybrid IT to Hybrid Cloud with Mimecast and Office 365 would also deliver functionality Cain suggests many organizations are looking for in their cloud providers too. For example; archive services independent of core cloud mailbox hosting, 3rd party compliance tools for security and DLP and 3rd party tools to ease migrations and large scale mailbox moves to the cloud.

So, thinking about these essential services in a more Hybrid model, with on-premise and cloud today, but cloud and cloud tomorrow means your infrastructure will never miss a beat, and helpfully stay ahead of the technology your users are demanding while delivering first class email service into the future.

To see Matt Cain talk about Hybrid IT and your Cloud email management goals, watch our video here.