Commercial email hosting services operate their own email servers, allowing customers to send and receive email. These services typically charge a fee, as opposed to free email services that are supported by advertisement or some other means. Email hosting services may be the best method for a business to obtain email capability, depending on the size of the business. The type of integration that the business requires between email and other applications is also an important factor in selecting an email-hosting service.
Email generally becomes more time-consuming for a business to manage as its size increases, making the time savings the greatest benefit for an email hosting service. This service can also eliminate the need for users to memorize separate passwords for their email and network in addition to allowing system administrators to manage this information from a single location. Larger businesses benefit from business email hosting services when the service can integrate email
with other applications that affect the entire organization such as Active Directory. Additional factors that may cause a business to benefit from hosted email management include a
dispersed workforce and complex IT policies.
Businesses with more than 25 users usually have the hardware and IT staff needed to manage their email service in-house. Businesses with fewer than five users may rely on free email services, although this option means that the business won’t have its own domain name. This is a disadvantage because it clearly indicates to customers that the business is very small.
Businesses with at least five and no more than 25 users tend to obtain the greatest benefit from hosted email services. These business can’t afford to manage their own email server and don’t
have the staffing needed to provide an email server with acceptable uptime. However, they are able to afford a robust hosted email service.
Integrating an email hosting service with existing systems allows a business to use those services more efficiently. The specific applications that a business needs to integrate with its email service may therefore determine the choice of email service. For example, a business may need to use Outlook so that workers can share their calendars with each other. This business would need to choose Exchange instead of Gmail since Outlook requires IMAP to support Gmail, and IMAP is a mail-only protocol. A business that uses third-party applications for Outlook such as the contact management tool Xobni should also consider Exchange.
Google Apps Premiere is another popular email hosting service. A business that uses Gmail to create labels may choose Google since Outlook doesn’t have this capability. An additional reason to choose Google is the fact that it doesn’t require a particular browser, so Google users will have the same experience whether they use Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer.
All businesses require email services, although the best method of obtaining email depends on a variety of factors. The most important of these factors include the number of users that the email service must support and the applications with which it must integrate. A business owner must also weigh the costs of maintaining its own email service against the cost of paying an email-service provider. Additional factors that determine the optimum email service solution include an organization’s infrastructure and degree of centralization.