Full hosting solutions mostly cater to SMBs, but a recent report from Radicati Group, entitled “Hosted Email Market, 2004-2008,” found that hosted messaging is starting to become attractive for larger companies as well.
“[Enterprises] see that a lot of the hosting providers have been around for a while with very few horror stories,” says Radicati Group analyst Marcel Nienhuis.“They like that providers have started offering management consoles to give corporations more control and access so they can easily set up new users and add rules and filters if they want to.” Nienhaus sees larger enterprises testing the SaaS waters with deployments in new departments or departments with special needs, such as factory floors or geographically dispersed users.
Some of the larger pure-play SaaS messaging vendors include ASP-One, BlueStar Solutions, BlueTie, BT Infonet, Critical Path, Intermedia.Net, Mi8, NaviSite, USA.Net, and USi.
Most providers base their services on Microsoft Exchange or in some cases Lotus Notes, but BlueTie, for example, uses its own technology. Improved scalability, Web access, and security features built into Exchange 2003 have allowed other, smaller providers to proliferate. Most providers bundle anti-virus and anti-spam services and offer those as discrete services as well. More and more vendors are also offering content filtering and compliance management.
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With hosted messaging security, midsize and large companies “like the idea that most of the bad stuff is kept far away from their network,” Radicati’s Nienhuis says.
When choosing an outsourced messaging service, however, it’s important to analyze fees carefully -- particularly for extra services and storage -- and to evaluate the completeness and ease-of-use of the management tools offered. Also, if compliance is an issue, make sure the provider has appropriate expertise and has implemented the right storage and disaster recovery measures. -- L.E.
A recent IDC survey showed that more than half of SaaS subscribers use at least three kinds of applications delivered as SaaS offerings. That’s a tiny absolute number now, but as SaaS usage grows, more and more enterprises may very well demand hosted integration among the hosted services they use. Otherwise, SaaS customers will be left as points of integration, reintroducing the complexity they were trying to squeeze out of the datacenter in the first place.