Whether you call it hosted e-mail or e-mail as a service or utility e-mail, alternatives to traditional on-premises e-mail have been growing in prominence recently.
And it makes sense: At best, e-mail services represent a simple cost of doing business-something that diverts a portion of IT staff resources away from projects more closely aligned with an organization's goals. At worst, keeping the e-mail lights on in an organization that lacks sufficient storage capacity, data center space or e-mail management know-how can actually make it more difficult for a company to get things done (as those who've put their work day on hold to delete enough old mail messages to return to their server's good graces can attest).
The idea that IT services-particularly mature, well-defined services such as e-mail-will tend toward a utility model is a convincing one. However, deciding whether today's crop of hosted e-mail services is suitable for use in all, part or none or your organization depends on identifying your needs, nailing down the effectiveness and cost of your current e-mail solution, and then determining whether a third party could satisfy these goals as well as or more efficiently than you can do in-house.