Despite risks, organizations embracing cloud-based email

Many organizations are holding off on migrating email to the cloud in order to first assess the security, compliance and other risks against uncertain cost benefits, according to Osterman Research.

While the survey shows only 26% of organizations intend to move at least some part of their messaging infrastructure to the cloud within the next year, inevitability reigns with more than 83% of all organizations expected to have email in the cloud by the end of 2014.

Underscoring the complexity of email infrastructure within large organizations, companies with 5,000 or more employees are slower in embracing the trend with only 59% expected to have cloud-based email within two years compared to 93% of smaller organizations.

Regulated industry is also taking its time with 60% of all compliance-minded organizations expected to have email in the cloud within two years versus 99% of companies operating in non-regulated industries.

“The results of our email-to-cloud migration survey show just how complex the email infrastructures at large and regulated organizations have become,” said Glen Vondrick , president and CEO of Sendmail. “It’s good to see organizations are realizing cloud-based email isn’t one-size-fits-all, and that they’re taking their time to evaluate their messaging architectures and migration plans to properly assess the risks, complications, deployment options and even benefits before moving messaging to the cloud.”

Much of the complexity in email-to-cloud migrations comes from the multitude of on-site point-products for email filtering, security, routing, and policy enforcement that 94% of large enterprises report having in place. Further complicating matters are systems and applications that are commonly attached to email infrastructure, which can cause total shutdown of corporate communications during a poorly planned email-to-cloud migration.

Most large organizations (40%) have more than 100 of such applications and systems. 29% of large organizations believe they have more than 500, and as many as 19% believe they have more than 1,000. 10% simply aren’t sure.

“Cloud-based email for large and regulated enterprises is clearly in a slow adoption phase, but this is a good sign,” said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. “Many organizations are merely exercising due diligence in identifying all the hurdles, including Big Data which may be a bigger security threat to businesses than many currently realize. Once this discovery and planning phase is completed over the next year, I think cloud-based email will hit its stride as the data strongly suggests.”

Of the risks many organizations are addressing, Big Data looms large with only 37% saying they’re not worried about the security and compliance implications of large, unchecked data flowing in and out of the enterprise, thanks in large part to the explosion of smartphones being used to send and receive a growing barrage of corporate messages and attachments.

Despite the growing complexity of email infrastructure, and the recommendation by many experts that large organizations embrace a hybrid approach to cloud-based email, only 22% have expressed clear plans for this approach. 17% of organizations have already moved email to the cloud in some way, but research suggests a lack of confidence in the benefits, with 73% of large businesses either doubting or simply not sure about the cost savings many predict. Even among the smaller, more enthusiastic organizations, only 37% express complete confidence in the cost benefits.

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