Most have already outsourced their web hosting. About half have done the same with email and purchase transaction processing. So it's only a short psychological hop to the notion of pushing their servers and office apps up to a virtual world.
We've got one client (SMB doctors office) that is hosting their Email domain with Gmail. While it is nice given the free hosting of mail@your-domain it has so far proven to be about half as reliable as a coin toss. The web development company that did their site, and recommended the Gmail solution said that it worked fine for many of their clients. So I'm trying really hard to reserve judgment ... But it's becoming difficult (aliases fail, MX record lookups fail, etc.).
Hosting a med practice's email on The Goog?
That definitely takes a bigger set of kahunas then I've got!
Yeah, wasn't my first choice either... But it's a small office (5 people) that's just starting up so it won't be a really huge mess if (when...) it goes sideways. Did I mention they were using @Yahoo accounts. I really am trying to give the whole cloud thing a fair shake as I don't want to be left behind with the main-frame crew ... But I do feel that a little kicking and screaming is warranted ... So I'm starting small.
Actually their original plan was to go with a thin client(ish) workgroup only because they were planning to us a cloud based solution. It was a knock down drag out battle to get them to go for getting even an entry level server let alone something hefty enough to handle publicly access services.
The schlockmiester sales crew from the cloud company strung these folks along till the very last minute. All the hardware had been spec'ed, approved, ordered, and was partially deployed...And only then... The price of the cloud service was (divulged)
discussed - to the tune of $86,000.00 - for a 5 person office - and training was extra. $12,000.00 extra (that is...).
So... we had to stick it (the Email) somewhere fast. Actually, if it wasn't for the fact that I tend to be a bit anal about wanting to spell peoples names correctly. I'd have never yanked open the box of newly delivered business cards and seen the company's website address on the bottom of the card. All previous inquires made received the response "we have no website".
...And that's how I got cornered into this little cluster f...
But what I was talking about was more along the lines of springing for a hosted Exchange server through one of the reputable business-class hosting companies. My personal feeling is that if your mail/ groupware requirements have reached the point where you need something like Exchange, you either need in-house IT - or a priority support contract/remote host arrangement if you're gonna go down that road. Because once you start using a groupware product, your whole business operation becomes completely dependent on it in relatively short order. So unless you have full time IT, you don't want to be running your own Exchange server.
We be on the same page there. However I'm not sure which business-class Exchange hosting companies to recommend ... Well, that and I'd rather manage an in-house Exchange server for them.
Not to say my organization won't be happy to provide (and invoice) support for it of you do bring your own "e-box" into the server room. But that still won't get you fail-over without spending more money.
Might I inquire about the nature and location of your organization? Specifically does your organization provide Exchange hosting?
Y'know what? I just realized I'd be making piles more money if I weren't so honest with my SMB clients. Gotta do something about that one of these days.
I too have been drawn to the dark side at times ... But one look in the mirror, and I just - can't - do - it.