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15 Factors to Consider – Hosting email Servers In-house vs Service Providers

In this post, let us look at the factors that a company needs to consider before deciding on whether they should host their email server in-house or outsource it to an external service provider.

Factors/ Parameters to consider before deciding on Hosting Email Server In-House vs Hosting Email Server with an external Service Provider:

1. Capital Expenditure – Cost of Hardware, Software, Back-up, Installation, etc. Usually, this is higher for hosting email server In-house.

2. Recurring Expenditure – Yearly subscription cost, Annual Maintenance cost, Cost of email administrator(s), etc. Recurring expenditure is higher for hosting email server with an external service provider.

3. Maintenance & Support – Email services are critical and often needs to be available round the clock. So, availability of 24×7 support personnel either in-house or with a service provider becomes crucial.

4. Network Security – In-house email hosting would also require the company to have their own Anti-spam/ Anti-virus/ content filtering gateways. With a service provider, these facilities are shared with multiple users.

5. Privacy – The possibility of confidential email messages being exposed to outsiders is higher with service provider hosted email server.

6. Scalability – New users can be added / removed easily and quickly with service provider hosted email server and most of them provide a GUI interface.

7. Migration – The feasibility & ease of moving existing email messages over to a different platform/ service provider and migrating between one service provider to another service provider needs to be examined.

8. Mobile devices – It is important to consider if a service provider / in-house email server software supports mobile email notification and syncing.

9. Storage space – The hardware required to store a huge volume of messages needs to be purchased (in-house) or rented (service-provider). The cost (in either case) needs to be considered.

10. Analysis/ Forensics – The availability of tools to archive and search for required information from a large number of messages is an important factor for both the cases.

11. Desktop/ Directories – It is important to check if the service provider based email service is able to integrate with the user’s preferred desktop client and corporate directories like LDAP/ AD, etc.

12. Reliability – Can the internal email be made 100% available (or close to it)? What are the costs involved to achieve the same? Does the service provider offer an SLA – Service Level Agreement guarantee?

13. Bandwidth – With a service provider hosted email server, even internal mails need to go through the WAN network. This additional bandwidth requirement should be budgeted.

14. Size of the Company – Based on the size of the company, it can be decided whether to go for dedicated email infrastructure or shared email infrastructure. Large companies might prefer the former and small / medium businesses might prefer the latter.

15. Mergers & Acquisitions – Many companies struggle with this. When they acquire other companies/ or get acquired by other companies, all the email messages & domains needs to be shifted from one place to another. Can either of the solutions handle this?

Apart from hosting email servers internally (or) hosting them with a shared email service provider, companies could also consider co-locating their email servers in a data-center, having their main email server with themselves but hosting the back-up server with a service provider, outsourcing in-house email management to external contractors (or) hosting email servers for few employees in-house and outsourcing it for everyone else, on the same domain.


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