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April 8, 2009

Gartner sends message on enterprise SaaS email

Suppliers of third-party on-premise tools hit hard

By CBR Staff Writer

Possibly 20% of the commercial e-mail market could be using a SaaS platform by the end of 2012 Gartner has predicted, with Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google and possibly, Yahoo dominating.

In 2007, email delivered SaaS fashion represented just 1% of the commercial e-mail market.

The analyst house has suggested that expected pace of adoption of e-mail software as a service platforms threatens the livelihood of the vast e-mail third-party vendor community.

Hardest hit will be applications which help protect, secure and stabilise e-mail systems, it has said.

Gartner has described how vendors currently providing some of the premises-based systems that are not necessary for SaaS implementations could be impacted by the shift in favour of software services.

The appeal of some disaster recovery and backup systems and spam and virus filtering products could fade over time.

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Some market-watchers believe the forecast may be a little off the mark, once organisations considering the SaaS e-mail option begin to appreciate the full IT security implications of email outsourcing.

Rob Rachwald of the application vulnerability specialist Fortify, said that not all SaaS-driven email services were created equal, and some are better at security than others.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with SaaS-driven email, but companies need to be very careful to verify the service they are using has the required security technology and processes to meet regulatory compliance issues, as well as the infrastructure required to meet the needs of any organisation, Rachwald said, 

There is also the issue of whether a firm’s security can be enhanced to extend its protective envelope around the SaaS-driven email service, and perhaps interface with the service provider’s IT security systems at an API level, he added.

According to Gartner, there are a number of general categories of third-party toolsets that will be affected to a greater or lesser extent by the move to the SaaS model for e-mail.

Applications core to running premises-based e-mail like disaster recovery, reporting, backup, spam and virus filtering; applications that extend the core services of the e-mail platform like fax, archive and encryption; and client-side applications like folder management and e-mail efficiency add-ins.

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