Public E-mail Follies

Consider this a miracle.  This will be one of my shortest blog entries ever but it is nonetheless an important one.  There is often this silly question regarding whether a business should have it’s own e-mail server or rely on a third-party provider.  Here’s the quick answer: always go in-house with e-mail and any major data warehousing.

Currently, I rely on GMail for many business ventures that are going rather well for me.  While Google is a great company and GMail is a great service, I must say, the random downtime, routing blackholes, and random spam blocking is annoying.  I’ve had messages sit in spam folders for weeks before I noticed them and, check this out: the addresses were already designated as trusted senders.  My other favorite item is messages that randomly get delayed, both inbound and outbound.  Someone will tell me they sent me a message and I’ll get it days or weeks later.  Pretty entertaining, really, but not really..  really!

Outsourcing is a great option for small busineses for most things but I think e-mail is one of those things you have to draw the line on.  I look at it like this: communication is the core of any business so if you can’t manage your communication channels, you’re already at a loss.  I mean, having e-mail systems go through a middle man is essentially saying “our business is yours” to the service providers.  If you have your own officespace, an internal e-mail server is a great way to keep a paper trail going and collaborate with your team members, short of using some fancy intranet or groupware solution.  You can never avoid downtime completely but at least, when you manage e-mail servers in-house, you have more control and responsiveness.

Even when you pay some of these hosting companies to provide e-mail services, if there is any problem with the service, they don’t care how many thousands of dollars it cost your business.  At best, they’ll refund you one month of service and wish you luck next time.  If you go in-house, you’ll have your own person or team managing the server so you have more accountability and ownership.

I should take my own advice and get some dedicated e-mail servers going for each major operation I have going on but, for now, GMail is playing nice and it is FREE so I guess I can’t complain too much…  Not to mention, my entire team is spread out throughout North America so we don’t really have the luxury of an intranet.  All you folks that do have centralized teams but cut corners on the vital IT resources – shame on you!


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