As the cloud continues to dominate everyday life — from backup services to web hosting — email stands to gain a few great new features that will help it remain a vital part of everyday communication. While several tech pundits have predicted that email will slowly fade away, drowned out by the noise of video calling, videoconferencing, text messaging, and other services, the cloud has been working to make email an even more essential part of everyday life. That’s especially true for enterprise users, who rely on email to do more than just pass along jokes or funny pictures.
Collaboration Goes to the Cloud and Joins Up with Email
For the past several years, email and cloud-based collaboration have been developing separately. There has been a push for businesses to develop their own workgroups within existing cloud-based collaboration tools, but there has been relatively little work on integrating everyday email with things like document sharing, cloud-based group presentation, and other tools. That is, of course, until just recently.
With tools like Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, and any number of open source alternatives, convergence between email communication and cloud-based collaboration is finally becoming a reality. It’s now possible to use email addresses as a way of inviting people into a collaborative environment, encouraging productivity in new and exciting ways that don’t even have to take place in a traditional office environment. As Microsoft gets closer to merging its Exchange email server and its SharePoint collaboration server, the company is starting to make noticeable changes to the way email is perceived in general. It’s now a key way to initiate group projects, presentations, and other events.
A Cloud Email Server Promotes Universal Access
Remember the days when email from work had to be accessed at work, and email from home had to be accessed at home? It seems like eons ago, but it wasn’t actually very long ago for many people. Those restrictions were lifted by things like web-based clients, and web-based clients have given way to the cloud email server that operates via IMAP and allows universal, unfettered access to emails. That’s only going to increase as companies look for new ways to make sure their employees can access email via smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop, whether they’re in the office or halfway around the world.
Email as a Corporate Reference Tool
Moving email to the cloud means that storage limitations are no longer local. Instead, email can be distributed across multiple email servers in a remote environment, providing virtually unlimited file storage space for businesses and individuals. That means rich, collaborative emails can be stored for future reference. So, too, can emails containing documents, images, videos, and other rich media that might be useful well after the email itself has been received and opened.
This approach to email is one that’s already being taken by companies like Google and Apple, where storage can be expanded as needed and emails can be stored forever. In the case of Google, the customer’s access to storage automatically scales larger as needed, providing a useful demonstration of why scalability in the cloud is such a game changer for companies that rely heavily on email to exchange ideas, important documents, and rich media.
The Best is Yet to Come
Of course, the most promising thing about email in the cloud is that its most exciting innovations probably haven’t been deployed yet. The cloud is a new and rapidly evolving technology. As it continues to grow and change the way business is done, companies and individuals will be treated to a growing array of new communication tools that reinforce the utility and longevity of the email medium.