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Give Web-Based E-Mail Another Look

For all the reasons cited by Associated Press writer Anick Jesdanun about web-based e-mail clients--and more--you should all take a look around your shops at the state of desktop e-mail clients. They are nice enough products, have nice features, integrate well with other desktop products, and all that stuff. But they are also pervasive support problems, requiring upgrades and maintenance, hand-holding and the like. And they require you to maintain a server and several layers of security protection to guard against spam, viruses, and other e-mail-borne malware. Most important, there are other alternatives for you to think about using.Especially if you're a small shop, with less than 1,000 users, it has occurred to me more than once in the last year or so, that this all doesn't make sense. E-mail servers are expensive to buy and maintain, so are security products. Desktop maintenance is nightmarish enough when it comes to word processors and spreadsheets, but when you start connecting things, it gets worse. And then there's the inherent complexity and frailty of today's e-mail clients, causing handholding headaches that you may not need to have.

And I agree with Jesdanun that today's web interfaces are light years ahead of what we could use 10 years ago. They include most of the features of desktop clients, and the provider also provides the security layer we need so much. The truth is that the only thing missing is a compliance layer that filters content and tracks destinations and provides adequate searchable message archiving.

At least take a look at the web-based e-mail services. One of them might be just the ticket that saves you time, money, and aggravation.