Mail Security

Email in the cloud: more efficient, secure and flexible – managing mail servers in the cloud

A business world without emails? Impossible! Emails are the backbone of communication and the link that connects teams, customers and partners. At the same time, the security of emails remains a significant challenge. Even if companies operate their own mail server on site, which is often seen as the best solution for data protection reasons, the question arises as to who wants to take responsibility for security. Reports of security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Exchange server, which is still frequently used in a company's own IT infrastructure, are not uncommon. Even an email server provided by your internet service provider and on which you host your domain requires extensive technical knowledge to identify and close security gaps, as these occur regularly.

Companies cannot avoid reorienting themselves in terms of security technology and strategy. Email communication in the cloud offers a new, efficient and flexible way of managing emails.

Basics of the local mail server & mail operation

First of all, it is important to understand what a local mail operation is. A local email server is an on-premises solution that is physically located in your organization. You have full control, but you also have to take care of all aspects of maintenance and security. While this gives you a certain amount of autonomy, it also brings with it a number of challenges.

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A local mail server is technically speaking, a location-based solution

Why should you even consider migration?

The decision to take the plunge into the cloud often arises out of necessity. You may be reaching the limits of your current infrastructure as your business grows and your IT can't keep up with demand. It could also be that security concerns (email security) are keeping you awake at night because your on-premises system no longer meets the latest security standards. Or you may be faced with rising operating costs as outdated hardware becomes more complex and expensive to maintain. You may also be experiencing growing frustration among your employees, who are demanding a more flexible and accessible workplace that cannot be achieved with the local system. Ultimately, the pressure of an increasingly complex compliance landscape could be the deciding factor that makes the move from a locally managed email server to the secure, regulated environment of the cloud inevitable.

Reasons that speak for a move

In the world of technology, email cloud migration, or moving your on-premises mail operations to the cloud, is akin to moving into a modern, centrally located office building. It's a strategic move that can take your business to a new level of efficiency and connectivity. Migrating your server to the cloud promises not only increased security, but also an increase in operational agility. Here are the key benefits that make a switch attractive:

  • Cost savings & reduced hardware requirements: Maintaining your own email servers is costly. In addition to the acquisition costs, there are continuous expenses for maintenance, energy and space. The server in the cloud, on the other hand, allows you to significantly reduce these costs as the provider is responsible for the infrastructure.
  • Scalability & flexibility: As your business evolves, so should your IT infrastructure. Cloud solutions can be quickly and easily adapted to your changing needs. You only pay for what you use and can easily scale up or down as required.
  • Reliability and resilience: Downtime can be devastating. Cloud providers invest heavily in ensuring high availability and often offer a level of reliability that is difficult to achieve with local solutions. Redundant systems and regular backups are standard.
  • Security & compliance: With server solutions in the cloud, you benefit from advanced security measures that are constantly updated to ward off the latest threats. The cloud also makes it easier to meet compliance requirements through standardized processes and certifications.
  • Access from anywhere: The world of work is changing and mobility is more important than ever. With a cloud-based email solution, you and your employees can access your communications from anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection. This promotes flexibility and productivity, regardless of location.

Advantages and disadvantages at a glance:

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ProsCons
Cost efficiency
By using cloud services, companies can reduce hardware and energy costs as well as maintenance costs.
Long-term costs
Although savings are made initially, ongoing subscription costs can increase over time.
Scalability
Resources can be adapted according to demand, which increases flexibility in corporate planning.
Data protection concerns
Concerns regarding storage in the cloud, especially with providers outside the EU.
High availability
Cloud services generally offer a high level of reliability and thus ensure business continuity.
Complexity of the migration
Moving to the cloud can be complex and requires careful planning and specialist knowledge.
Access from anywhere
Employees can access email services from any location with Internet access, which increases mobility and flexibility.
Internet dependency
Access to emails is dependent on the Internet connection, which can lead to problems in the event of outages.
Security & compliance
Cloud providers are continuously investing in security measures and help to meet compliance requirements.
Dependence on the provider
The data and services are in the hands of the cloud provider, which can lead to dependencies.
Automatic updates
Software and security features are updated automatically, which reduces administrative effort.
Loss of control
Companies have less control over the infrastructure and are dependent on the provider's tools and protocols.
Easier collaboration
Many cloud email solutions offer integrated tools for improved team collaboration.
Interoperability
The challenge of integrating existing systems or applications into the cloud environment.
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Planning the email migration

The decision to migrate to the cloud is not just a question of technological modernization, but also a strategic decision that is crucial for the future viability of your company. Moving to the cloud paves the way for a more agile, cost-efficient and secure way of running your business.

Start planning by defining goals and expectations: What do you want the migration to achieve? Improved collaboration? Reduced costs? Greater flexibility? Define clearly and measurably what cloud-based mail server hosting will mean for your company.

The next step is to select the right cloud provider. This step is essential, as not all providers offer the same services, security standards or support options. Compare the offers thoroughly and consider not only the current but also the future needs of your company. MSSP providers (Managed Security Service Providers) can help you with both provider selection and migration.

A precise overview of the data and settings to be migrated will help you to understand the scope of the project and ensure that no important information is lost. What data needs to be transferred? Which user settings need to be taken into account?

Finally, the creation of a time and budget plan is of great importance. A realistic schedule ensures a structured process and helps to keep the project on time. The budget plan gives you a financial framework within which to carry out the migration. It should include both one-off costs and ongoing costs for the cloud service.

Preparation of the migration

Preparing to migrate your email system to the cloud is a multi-layered task. Here are the steps you should consider:

Informing and training employees

A well-informed workforce is the key to a smooth migration. It is important that all employees understand why the change is taking place and the benefits it offers. Training should be organized to ensure the team is familiar with the new tools and procedures. Provide resources to answer questions and offer support for those who need additional help.

Carrying out inventory and data cleansing

Before you start the migration, carry out a complete inventory of the existing email data. This includes checking for outdated or no longer required content. Thorough data cleansing not only reduces the amount of data to be migrated, but also improves the clarity and efficiency of your email environment.

Setting up the cloud environment

Setting up your new cloud environment includes selecting and configuring email services, storing and managing data, and integrating with existing business applications. Test the environment thoroughly to ensure that all systems work as expected and that the email services run smoothly.

Security aspects of migration

Ensure that all data is encrypted during transfer and that the cloud environment itself meets all required security protocols and standards. Also consider your company's security and data protection guidelines to ensure compliance requirements.

The relocation process

The migration process from your on-premises email system to the cloud is a critical process that requires a comprehensive, methodical approach. The migration begins with the creation of a detailed plan that documents every step of the process.

  • Preparation and planning: Analyze your current mail server environment, such as the number of mailboxes, the size of the data volume and any special features such as archiving guidelines or special security settings.
  • Select a cloud mail service that meets your requirements.
  • Create a backup: Back up all data from the local mail server to prevent data loss.
  • Configure the cloud mail service: Have your account set up with the chosen cloud provider.
  • Migrate the data: Use the tools provided by the cloud provider or your MSSP partner to transfer the data from the local server to the cloud.
  • Test phase: Test the functions of the new cloud mail service intensively to ensure that everything works as expected.
  • Conversion and go-live: After a successful test phase, you can redirect email traffic to the new cloud mail service.
  • Follow-up and support: Provide training or guidance for users to ease the transition. Ensure support is available for any questions or issues.

Challenges that can arise during relocation

When transitioning from a local email server to the cloud, problems can arise that require immediate action. Such problems can range from technical difficulties, such as the compatibility of old and new systems, to human error.

Typical problems with email migration to the cloud

Problems that may arise include data loss, interruptions in email traffic, security breaches or compliance issues. Here are some typical problems and the best strategies to overcome them, as well as contingency plans for unexpected difficulties.

Solutions and best practices

To meet these challenges, you should apply the following best practices:

Thorough advance planning
A detailed strategy helps to minimize risks. This includes a complete risk analysis and the creation of a detailed migration plan.

Ensure data integrity
All data should be backed up before the migration. It is also important to carry out data integrity checks both before and after the migration.

Gradual migration
Rather than attempting a complete changeover all at once, a gradual migration can reduce the risk of downtime and data loss.

Communication and training
Make sure that all users are informed about the upcoming changes and are trained in the use of the new systems.

Technical support
Keep technical experts on hand during the migration to address any problems that arise immediately.

Contingency plans for unexpected difficulties

Despite careful planning, unforeseen events can occur. It is essential to have contingency plans for such cases. These should contain the following elements:

Backup and restore procedures
If data is lost during the migration, it is important to be able to fall back on a reliable backup.

Fast communication channels
It must be possible to communicate quickly in the event of problems. Make sure that everyone involved knows how to get help in an emergency.

Alternative workflows
Develop plans for alternative processes if the email systems are temporarily unavailable.

After the migration

Now that the migration of your email infrastructure to the cloud is complete, a new phase begins that is critical to the long-term success of your cloud strategy. It's now about monitoring and optimizing the new systems and making sure your team is using the new features effectively.

Monitoring and optimization of cloud services

Continuously monitoring the performance of your cloud services is crucial to ensure that they deliver the expected performance and reliability. Regularly analyze utilization and response times to identify and resolve bottlenecks. Use the flexibility of the cloud to dynamically adjust resources to ensure optimal performance. This also includes cost monitoring to ensure that your cloud service continues to be an economically viable model for your business.

Further training of employees for new functions

With the introduction of the cloud often come new features and ways of working that your employees may not be immediately familiar with. Invest in advanced training to ensure that all team members can use the new tools and services effectively. This will not only increase productivity, but also promote acceptance of the new systems.

Evaluation of the migration process and documentation of experiences

A careful evaluation of the entire migration process is essential in order to learn from it and improve future IT projects. Document what went well and where challenges arose. This documentation can serve as valuable feedback for cloud providers and help you to make future migration projects even more efficient. Record which measures were particularly successful and which processes should be adapted. These findings are not only useful for IT departments, but can also support management in making strategic decisions.

Play it safe: combination of Microsoft & Mimecast

A key component in improving your email security is the intelligent combination of Microsoft and Mimecast. Microsoft products such as Microsoft 365 (also in the form of SAAS solutions) and the Exchange server are firmly established in numerous IT infrastructures and provide a solid foundation for business operations.

Despite security features in the Microsoft 365 Suite, such as anti-malware- and anti-spam-filters, threat detection and defense or encryption options, there are increasing reports of security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Exchange server. In order to continue to work securely with Microsoft's communication and Teams services, we recommend adding Mimecast's cloud-based email security solutions to your IT infrastructure.

With Advanced Threat Protection, Mimecast offers advanced protection against threats such as targeted phishing attacks and zero-day threats. It analyzes emails in real time and uses AI and machine learning to identify threats. Mimecast also offers email archiving and compliance solutions. This enables you to keep your emails secure and meet compliance requirements.

Security from tomorrow and seamless email history

With this integrated system solution, you are no longer on your own: You get the peace of mind of working in a secure email environment from now on. In addition, IT security specialists take care of the seamless transfer of your entire email history. This means that you not only benefit from the latest security advantages, but also keep your existing emails safe and secure.

A smooth move, without interruptions

Our team of experts has extensive experience in carrying out email migrations. We ensure that the move from your current email system to our solution is seamless for you and your employees. The migration will take place without disruption or downtime, so no user will notice that anything has changed.

More safety, more efficiency

To make your email communication more secure and efficient, it is important to implement the latest security measures. These protect your data and improve collaboration and efficiency in your company.

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GRTNR.IT is not just about security, but also about optimizing your business processes so that you can concentrate on your core business. Feel free to contact us!

FAQs: Frequently asked questions

Glossary

Here is a table that clearly presents the required information on the terms mail hosting, mail server, email protocols and mail client. This table should help you understand the meaning of each term, their connections to each other, and familiar real-world examples.

Each of these terms plays an essential role in the email communication ecosystem, and their interplay allows us to utilize the widespread and diverse email services available today.

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BegriffBedeutungZusammenhang mit anderen BegriffenBeispiele
MAIL HOSTINGService that provides storage space and access to a mail server to send, receive and store emails. Uses mail servers and email protocols to manage and transfer emails. Customers use mail clients to interact. Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Zoho Mail
E-MAIL-SERVERA server that is responsible for receiving, storing and forwarding emails.It is provided by mail hosting services and uses email protocols for email traffic. Mail clients access it to send and receive emails.Postfix, Microsoft Exchange, Exim
MAIL LOGSRules and procedures that determine how email data is transferred between mail clients and mail servers. Enable communication between mail client and mail server; are essential for the operation of mail hosting. SMTP, IMAP, POP3
MAIL CLIENTAn application that allows users to send, receive and organize emails.Accesses mail servers via email protocols to manage emails; depends on mail hosting for server access and services.Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail
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