SMB benefits from Web-based hosted service

case study Google's hosted mail, documents and calendar services take the hassle away for Singapore-based Convergent Systems.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

case study By subscribing to a Web-based hosted service, Convergent Systems has managed to reduce costs and done away with support issues associated with maintaining an e-mail system.

The Singapore-based distributor of computer-related products currently uses Google's hosted mail, documents and calendar services.

Vincent Vencatachellum, systems administrator at Convergent, said about two-and-a-half years ago, it became clear that the company's needs had outgrown the capabilities of its five-year-old e-mail server, running on Microsoft Exchange and supporting a variety of e-mail clients, including Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express and Mozilla Thunderbird.

"Our existing e-mail server was no longer able to cope with the required workload," Vencatachellum said in an e-mail interview. "Also, our spam filtering software license had just expired and that was another reason Gmail looked so good. Its spam filtering ability is impressive."

Despite Google's hosted business applications being fairly new at that time, the fact that it was available for free encouraged Convergent Systems to try out the mail service. "It turned out that Gmail was in almost every way better than our Microsoft Exchange solution," said Vencatachellum, adding that the service allows Convergent staff to access their mail via a Web browser using any PC.

Mail administration has also been simplified. "Administering an Exchange server is quite tedious at times, and when problems occur, it can be rather time-consuming to resolve them," said Vencatachellum. Convergent also enjoys substantial savings by using the free Web-based service, he added.

However, Vencatachellum conceded that there is some loss of control using the hosted service, compared to the company having its own e-mail server. He revealed that the move to the Google platform did initially stir up some anxiety among its staff.

"When we first embarked on this project, we were quite anxious to let a third-party handle all our e-mail. But, more than two years later, I am relieved to say there have been no security breaches."

To ensure things stay that way, Convergent requires all users to have strong passwords. And should they access their mail from a public terminal, employees have to ensure they do not save their password on the system, and to clear the cache and remember to log off after they are done using the computer.

"In this regard, user education is the best course of action," said Vencatachellum.

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