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Meet the other enterprise e-mail cloud options

Cisco, IBM/Lotus and Zoho also play in this space

By John Brandon
April 28, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft and Google aren't the only cloud e-mail providers setting their sights on the enterprise. Here's a look at some others.

IBM LotusLive iNotes

Panasonic Corp., the Osaka, Japan-based consumer electronics giant, has moved all of its 250,000 employees worldwide to IBM's LotusLive iNotes e-mail in the cloud and is moving employees at Sanyo (a company it owns) as well. It's a rather dramatic move to cloud computing, especially since it includes applications beyond e-mail.

"If it makes sense financially," Panasonic will move it to the cloud, says Cassio De Oliveira, the CIO and vice president of IT for Panasonic in North America. "We looked at everything out there, and LotusLive made sense as a global solution." Functionality and cost set iNotes apart from the competition.

Of course, he adds, "there are challenges with any move to the cloud, and this is one of the largest transitions in the world."

De Oliveira says he typically chooses IT services and partners based on how well the vendor supports its product, and not purely on features and functions. Pressed to pick one main reason for the move to an e-mail server in the cloud, he named cost as the main incentive, followed by the functionality iNotes provides.

Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says security is LotusLive iNotes' biggest strength, specifically when it comes to role-based policy management.

Brendan Crotty, IBM's program director for Lotus Online Collaboration, explains more about the security features: "SSL encryption is enforced for all connections," he says. "And we use extended validation certificates to provide better server authentication to resist phishing."

Cisco WebEx e-mail

Cisco System's Inc.'s WebEx e-mail is the only e-mail server in the cloud that provides native support for MAPI protocols in Outlook, as opposed to requiring customers to buy a separate plug-in. This is an advantage for companies that want to keep using Outlook with minimal interruption. WebEx also sports a base price of about $5 per user per month, comparable to both Gmail for Business and to Exchange Online, and Cisco charges $1 per user per month for BlackBerry access.

Cisco houses its servers in multiple geographic locations and has a "hard delete" for e-mails, meaning it ensures that deleted messages are not cached. The company says it provides a "restore time objective" for lost e-mails of about four hours instead of the typical 12 hours common with some other cloud e-mail servers.

WebEx E-mail does not support widgets for adding new services such as quick access to Twitter feeds from the administrator's panel or user views. Cisco says it left out widget support on purpose because it wants to minimize IT involvement where possible, and systems with widgets require more maintenance than those without.



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