Moving an enterprise's e-mail and messaging systems to the cloud makes sound business sense: it's cost-effective, hugely scalable and globally accessible from every type of device.
Indeed, international IT analyst group, Gartner, predicts that 55% of enterprise e-mail and collaboration systems will be hosted in the cloud by 2020, up from around 4% at present.
However, Yossi Hasson, MD of Johannesburg-based software as a service (SaaS) specialist, SYNAQ, cautions that because e-mail and messaging systems are critical for the efficient operation of every business, they have to be reliable. It's essential that South African businesses ensure the service and support they receive from the cloud service provider meets their needs and expectations.
SYNAQ has built one of the leading cloud-based messaging infrastructures available today in South Africa and processes more than 400 million mails a month. The company recently launched its site to make it quick and easy for businesses to switch to cloud messaging.
Hasson points out that most of the major cloud e-mail solutions are hosted offshore. This, he says, could prove to be a problem for local businesses from several perspectives, ranging from the availability of personalised and immediate support to regulatory and privacy issues.
And then there's always connectivity issues to consider.
While download and response times from the global Internet have improved with the commissioning of the various undersea cables, Hasson notes that international connectivity remains vulnerable.
"If your ISP's international link goes down, as has happened a number of times since the cables landed, your e-mail service will be adversely affected. Having your e-mail hosted within South Africa will eliminate that risk," he explains.
"In addition, obtaining support from a local hosting service provider is also easier and faster – and usually just a phone call away," he adds.
Another compelling reason to have corporate e-mails hosted locally is regulatory compliance.
According to Hasson, data retention laws differ around the world. Any data that is archived or hosted within a country must not only comply with the data retention laws of that country, it would also be subject to the country's privacy laws.
"So, if a South African company's e-mails are hosted in the United States, the e-mails would be subject to the data retention and privacy laws of the United States, as well as the data retention and privacy laws of South Africa. In the US, proposed changes to its data retention laws have been labelled the 'IT snooping Bill'," he adds.
SYNAQ is offering businesses a 21-day free trial of its Cloud Messaging service. Thereafter, should they choose to continue with the service, they can do so simply by clicking on the "sign up" button in the SYNAQ client zone.