Although it has been around for some time, cloud computing has gained popularity over the past few years and the business world is embracing it. One of the fastest areas of the shift to the cloud is with email.  The demand for remote access from a variety of devices—tablets, smartphones and laptops—has contributed to this trend, as has widespread usage of cloud-based email solutions such as Gmail.

There are numerous benefits to moving to cloud-based email services.  Maintaining in-house email servers require higher expertise and security knowledge that ultimately becomes prohibitively expensive. Moving away from an in-house solution allows IT staff more time to focus on other initiatives. The cloud service provider that handles email is responsible for the ongoing hardware and storage maintenance, administration and security requirements. With cloud storage, the user is also able to copy virtual images from the cloud to the on-premise location and vice versa, allowing for an abundance of storage.

Hosting your own email requires constant upgrading, patching, backing up and monitoring.  Once email transitions to the cloud, the service provider is responsible for all storage maintenance tasks and provides the most-recent version of their product. Additionally, having email servers in the cloud provides offers business continuity in the event of a disaster, so that employees can communicate with one another via email during disruptions.

Cloud services are typically delivered in a “pay-as-you-go” model that allows a predictable cost of ownership and moves those costs to an operating expenditure model. Companies only need to pay for the storage that they actually use; typically this is an average amount of usage per month. Often, this model also can provide companies access to advanced capabilities, like email archiving and encryption.

Prior to being named Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella helped shape and build the company’s cloud initiatives. The successful growth of cloud hosting is bound to improve and increase service offerings such as Office365 even further.  As cloud adoption becomes more prevalent, decision makers should be aware of the ever-changing landscape and assess how cloud-based solutions fit into their strategy.