When moving to the cloud, email is first on the list, because “email” is really so much more. Some companies have used email from Yahoo, Microsoft or Google for years, and store their contacts there too. Others have used Outlook, and relied on local copies of contacts and calendars. Larger or more complex companies have used Microsoft Exchange to integrate mail, contacts and calendars.
My employer years ago implemented corporate email. We had a major crash three weeks after launch and were down for 2 days. It almost crippled the company. Email had become mission critical overnight!
Companies today are equally dependent on email to conduct business. Microsoft Exchange is complex. Most of the time it works well, but failures can be very costly and damaging. If you consider how dependent you are on email, and how risky it is to keep it in-house, moving to the cloud is an easy decision!
So, which cloud email solution should you use?
- Office 365, Microsoft invented Exchange, and then put it in the cloud. It’s moderately priced, although there are cheaper alternatives. It’s reliable, and can manage your corporate communications. It can include full desktop copies of Microsoft Office. It also supports integrated Voice over IP, to bring all communications under a single umbrella. Finally it can store and share important documents in the cloud, eliminating the need for products like Dropbox.
- Google Apps for Business. Google has been a leader in cloud email for years, with its Gmail platform. It also offers word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and can store all of them in the cloud; and allows multiple people to work on them concurrently. Add Google Voice and you get some of the features of Voice over IP and integrated communications.
- There are other third-party offerings, but none that come close to the two above. Apple is trying to compete with its own productivity and cloud offerings, but is running a distant third.
Office 365 is easy to use, offers more capabilities than Google’s products, and is better integrated. If you started with Google and stayed in the cloud, their products may suffice, and are a little cheaper. But if you share information with a companies using the Microsoft Office suite, Office 365 comes out on top.
OK, so we know what to use and why, but what about how to migrate to the cloud?
- Sign up for Office 365 or Google Apps. You can do that directly, or find an authorized reseller. ECC IT Solutions is an authorized reseller for Office 365.
- There is a lot of information online from both Microsoft and Google to help you make the transition. If you are tech savvy, and willing to put in the effort, you can do it yourself. Most companies hire a professional IT service provider to help with the setup.
- Transition your existing files to the cloud. There are multiple ways to accomplish this, and both Microsoft and Google offer tools that help. In the case of Office 365, there are third party tools that can make the migration much easier to accomplish. ECC IT Solutions has in-depth expertise in both manual and automated migrations for both Office 365 and Google Apps for business.
- Decommission your in-house Exchange server. The key here is to make sure your data is deleted before recycling the equipment.
- Consider Microsoft’s Skype for Business for your telephony needs, it can save money and allow people to make and receive calls from anywhere as if they were present in the office.
The most successful cloud email implementations are those managed by an IT service provider. Whatever you choose, ECC IT Solutions is ready, willing and able to help.