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As companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM
enter into the cloud e-mail and collaboration services (CECS) markets as part of
an effort to deliver the next generation of workplace solutions, e-mail is
likely to undergo major changes, according to a report from IT research firm
Gartner. The firm estimated that CECS is just a small piece of the overall e-mail
and collaboration market at approximately 2 percent of the broader enterprise
market, yet it is poised to go mainstream in the next five to 10 years.

In a recent report titled "The Cloud E-Mail and Collaboration Services
Market," Gartner indicated that by 2012, cloud e-mail collaboration
services will see 10 percent penetration. In addition, by 2020, CECS market growth
will level off as it nears 65 percent penetration. The report found higher
education, discrete manufacturing and retail appear to be significantly more
likely to adopt cloud-based collaboration services today, while intelligence,
defense, the heavily-regulated portions of financial services and health care
providers are among those least likely to be early adopters. Gartner report
reasons for differences by industry related to cost, regulatory and security
sensitivity.

Gartner terms the collection of a broad range of e-mail and collaboration
capabilities the CECS market segment. Conceptually, this could include e-mail,
calendaring and scheduling, instant messaging, presence, audio and video chat,
Web conferencing, simultaneous real-time content collaboration, micro-blogging,
publish-and-subscribe communication tools, virtual workspaces, wikis,
discussion forums and the underlying content clustering, context, security,
administration, management, federation, and integration services.

Many reasons were offered and many benefits observed in discussions with
Gartner clients, including lower net cost. This may be particularly true for
enterprises with several thousand or fewer users, but the report noted many
other factors need to be considered. Other frequently cited adoption
justifications were greater reliability, particularly for smaller organizations;
greater security, again, particularly for smaller organizations; the ability to
stay up to date effortlessly (sometimes referred to as "getting off the upgrade
treadmill"); smoothing cash flow requirements; and moving from upfront
capital expenditures to ongoing, pay-as-you-go operating expenses.

The report also indicated it may cost less to migrate to CECS than to upgrade
an existing older, on-premises system, particularly if existing network and
server topologies need to be redone. The upgrade could also free some IT
personnel from having to support all the enterprise’s users—some may be able to
be completely serviced by the CECS provider. Current implementations do not
eliminate user administration and management costs, but they appear to cut them
in half, Gartner noted.