One of the most powerful cloud solutions to come along in recent years is the advent of cloud email services.
The Current Paradigm
Currently, email services in most small and medium-sized businesses are organized around an on-site server. In this approach, a master program such as Microsoft Exchange is running on the server while each computer attached to the network must have a parallel client program installed. These clients frequently consist of Microsoft Outlook, though on mobile devices, such as smart phones, a specific mobile client will be necessary.
This system facilitates an approach to email in which users connect to the central server in order to download their new messages, which then typically are deleted from the main server. In turn, users upload messages that they have composed on their own client machines or devices, and these messages are stored in the central server until the recipient connects to it in order to download them.
The disadvantages of such a system are self-evident. Users have to be present at their primary workstation or in possession of their mobile device in order to access their messages. If a worker needs to check his email on a co-worker's computer because his or her own is unavailable, it will involve adjusting Outlook settings, creating new accounts, and any number of other tasks, some of which are complex enough that they may require a call to IT support. If a worker is outside the network completely, for example at a business center computer in a hotel, he/she will not be able to reach the Microsoft Exchange server in many cases.
Even worse perhaps are the data retention implications. Once a message is downloaded onto a worker's machine, it is highly vulnerable to becoming permanently lost since there may not be a backup copy of it anywhere.
The Cloud Solution
Cloud-based email can be provided as part as an overall managed services model for IT support. In this model, all messages reside on a central server accessible from any internet-connected computer. Workers can reach their email from anywhere as long as they can supply the proper credentials.
In addition, messages are much less likely to be lost since they remain in a central location that is regularly backed up even after employees have accessed them. Messages in this paradigm become inaccessible only when an employee has deliberately deleted them, but even then, they may exist in backups for a long time to come.