Cloud Vs On Premise Email Archive Setup: A Step-by-Step Cost Benefit Analysis

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Making a choice between an on-premise email archiving solution and a cloud email archiving solution?

Look no further. This comprehensive document highlights the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a customer who has 2500 mailboxes deployed on an on premise Primary mail platform (as a sample) and who is making a choice between a cloud vs on premise archival system.

Cloud setups by their very nature follow the Opex model of costing. On-premise setups are typically a combination of Capex and Opex costs. For on-premise setups, there is a fixed upfront cost to purchase equipment, servers, storage etc and then an ongoing Opex cost to maintain and run this setup.

To make an apple to apple comparison between a Capex intensive on premise setup and an Opex based cloud setup, we have assumed a lifetime for all capex purchased, and converted these expenses into annual opex costs.

Also, for the sake of creating this document, we have assumed an on premise archival solution with an average costing and have compared it with Vaultastic cloud archival service.

If a similar exercise is done for any other product and service, the results would be quite similar. While the content may vary, the context is the same.

Goals


The goals of the proposed email archival setup, so that the two architectures, in premise and cloud, are designed to deliver on these goals.

Number of users Architecture sizing supports a user base in this range Quantity 2500
Uptime required System should be extremely reliable (RTO=near zero) % 99.9
Data Durability Data should be safe, secure and extremely durable (RPO=0) % 100
Retention of email System should retain all mail for a period of 7 years years 7

Basic Assumptions


For the sake of computing in premise equipment cost, the following assumptions have been made. These are inline with Industry standards.

AMC Maintenance price per year as a percentage of original price % 20
Life of equipment Period after which, equipment needs refresh years 5
Average Annual mail growth per user A single business user will grow send and receive this volume of email in one year (and this will keep growing) GB 4
Size of Storage (total) Assuming 2500 users need to retain mail for 7 years, this is the total storage required (number of users * Average annual growth per user * retention period) TB 68
Cost of SATA per TB Our research suggests that this is the price of SATA per TB USD 87

In Premise Architecture and Total Cost of Ownership


The image below represents an ideal in premise architecture to come close to achieving the goals of the setup.
 In Premise Email Archival setup
 

The table below  represents the total annual cost of running a setup of this architecture.

Site Component Annual recurring cost (opex) USD Description
Primary Site Infrastructure 1 Mail Archiving server 3407 Active mail server receiving and storing mail.
1 redundant mail Archiving server (Passive Hot standby) 3407 To cluster the mail server for redundancy to handle local mail server failures
1 Front End Server 2726 Users access the services via this server
SAN Storage volume (68TB) 2702 Mails are stored on this
Backup system 2829 Periodic backups to secondary medium
Data center costs 3000 Running cost per year to host the equipment
Bandwidth costs 5000 Cost of b/w for mail flow and mail access
DR site Infrastructure 1 Mail server 3407 Active mail server receiving and storing mail.
1 Front End Server 3407 Users access the services via this server
SAN Storage volume (68TB) 2702 Mails are stored on this
Data center costs 3000 Running cost per year to host the equipment
Bandwidth costs 5000 Cost of b/w to replicate data continuously
Services 24/7 NOC to monitor Primary and DR site 27000 NOC team to ensure uptime
L1 helpdesk Team 13500 Team to provision users, set policies, study reports etc
Digital eyes and ears (monitoring) 750 Automated monitoring for resources at both DCs
Software Costs Operating System for 5 servers across both sites General Subscription for Red Hat Linux OS for 2 Mail servers, 2 redundant mail servers, 1 front end server
Any suitable archiving software 18750 Subscription for any suitable email archiving software which provides comparable features
TOTAL 104581
Effective per user per year rate 42

SaaS on cloud Architecture and Total Cost of Ownership


For a SaaS service, you don’t have to provision any infrastructure. Rather, you simply sign up, provision users and consume the services.
The customer needs to consider only two components, viz. The bandwidth and the internal IT team to front end the queries by the end user.

The image below represents a cloud based SaaS solution architecture which achieves the goals and delivers strong benefits beyond that too.

SaaS on Cloud Archival Setup

The table below represents the total annual cost of running a setup of this architecture.

Site Component Annual recurring cost (opex) USD Description
Infrastructure Bandwidth costs (8-10 MBPS) 7500 Cost of b/w for mail access
Services L1 Helpdesk team 13500 Team to provision users, set policies, study reports etc
SaaS Vaultastic Tracer SaaS cloud service General Subscription to Vaultastic’s Tracer plan
TOTAL 81000
Effective per user per year rate 32

The Cost Comparison


The table below suggests your cost areas while running an email archival setup. Observe that for a cloud setup all the factors are included as part of the service offering and also guaranteed.

In Premise Email Archival Setup Cloud Email Archival Setup
Effective per user per year cost 42 32
Cost Model Capex + Opex Opex
Infrastructure At your cost, which varies with your goals All inclusive and fully managed, rate fixed at whatever your size of deployment
Reliability/Availability At your cost – A MASSIVE DESIGN EFFORT, which must consider DATA SAFETY, UPTIME, DATA DURABILITY, and DISASTER RECOVERY site All inclusive – GUARANTEE of 99.9% UPTIME & DATA DURABILITY of 99.999999999%, and DR INCLUDED
Security At your cost – SECURITY NEEDS SPECIAL EFFORT to consider PHYSICAL SECURITY, DATA SECURITY, EMAIL SECURITY, NETWORK SECURITY, and ongoing maintenance ALL INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE. All you have to do is configure your email usage policies
Scalability At your cost – A CHALLENGE when considering UPGRADING, SCALING, via long purchase and deployment cycles INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE. WE GROW WITH YOU

The Benefit Comparison


The table below shows that besides being lower in cost, how a cloud email archiving service offers a plethora of benefits, which future proof your investments and are totally de-risked from lock in contracts, aging assets, management issues, etc

In Premise Email Archiving Setup Cloud Email Archiving Setup
Delivery Model Responsibility You deploy and maintain the infra and application using your internal resources Fully managed, SLA backed service, ready for you to simply consume.
On-boarding Procure equipment, deploy, test, optimize, manage and maintain all of which can take a long time to get started Get started immediately. Provision your setup in less than a day and you can start consuming.
Infrastructure Responsibility YOU PROCURE, PROVISION and MAINTAIN ALL INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE. ZERO INFRA, ZERO MANAGEMENT, ZERO MAINTENANCE AT YOUR END
Data center Not feasible (and also not your business goal) to invest in converting your DC to tier 4 level reliability, getting certified at multiple levels, building in power and colling redundancies, and more. AWS Cloud DC is carrier grade, multi region, with multiple certifications, built in redundancies and multiple physical Availability zones in one region. Certified from ISO, CMM, CERT etc for various parameters and compliance
Provisioning *Needs upfront provisioning even for future workloads. Can get wasted if there is a downsize. * No upfront provisioning required* Simple monthly billing as per consumption = pay as you go, pay per use, grow/shrink anytime.

* No fixed contracts, cancel anytime with no liability.

 

Technology refresh *Fixed, static technology for a period of 5 years*During a refresh, these become dead assets.

*No easy upgrade without risk or major downtime

 

*Infra automatically renewed/upgraded by cloud provider ensuring that our solution is always on a high performance & latest platform
Scalability * Scaling is not easy due to long procurement cycles* Scaling often requires a rearchitecture, leading to downtimes, risk of data loss and drop in productivity.

 

*Allows us scale up/down/out with ease at the click of a button*Elastic infinite cloud storage, means no upfront provisioning and no projected need. Scales on demand

 

Reliability/Availability

 

Responsibility A MASSIVE DESIGN EFFORT FOR YOU GUARANTEE of 99.9% UPTIME & DATA DURABILITY of 99.999999999%, and DR INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE
Uptime *Reliability and Redundancy has to be built into the infrastructure and application by careful planning, provisioning of extra resources and automated or manual processes *Infrastructure guaranteed at 99.9% uptime by AWS.*Application designed with redundancy, auto scale, hierarchical storage and more to deliver on uptime promise

 

Data Safety and Durability *Data Durability goal needs redundancy in storage, strong frequent backups, and sync to DR Site.* Needs a separate backup system copy critical data periodically from the mail server. Reliability of this system also has to be factored in, leading to higher costs

And yet, this can almost NEVER achieve an RPO of zero.

 

*Cloud storage provides a data durability of 99.999999999% allowing the solution to provide an RPO of zero*Thanks to extreme data durabiility offered by cloud storage, backup of the data is built into the architecture

 

Monitoring and NOC You need to deploy automation tools to monitor service and infrastructure uptime and also provision a 24/7 team to work in shifts to monitor and maintain the setup. Mithi uses a combination of digital eyes and ears along SOPs, and a well trained 24/7 NOC maintain uptime.
Disaster recovery *DR site has to be provisioned to achieve goals of 99.9% uptime *DR built into the architecture. By over provisioning using the availability zones for our infrastructure, helps us deliver on our guaranteed promise of 99.9% application uptime.
Security Responsibility Thanks to mounting cyber security attacks/threats, SECURITY NEEDS SPECIAL EFFORT BY YOU ALL INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE. All you have to do is configure your email usage policies
Infrastructure security *Physical security of the infrastructure has to be planned, built in and monitored. * Infrastructure secured by cloud provider to ensure privacy and safety of the resources
Data Security *Data has to be stored encrypted with controlled limited access. You need to design tis into your info sec working. * Encryption of data, access control, mail usage policy control built into the infrastructure.
Email Security *A gateway mail solution (scrubbing) has to be deployed * Integrated high performance guaranteed Mail scrubbing service (in partnership with Trend Micro HES) to detect mailware.
Network Security * Have to design and build in WAFs, Intrusion detection systems, Attack mitigation systems, TLS, etc * Resources secured at multiple layers with IAM, athorisation, VPCs, WAFs, Firewalls, TLS and more
Data Ownership * Data is captive within your own physical environment * Even though the data is stored on the cloud, the data is entirely yours and you can take the data whenever you want using multiple ways to download the data. We dont own or control your data.
Ongoing Infra security * Regular VAPT and other analysis needs to be done to ensure hygiene * Part of the IaaS
Scalability Responsibility A CHALLENGE FOR YOU INCLUDED WITH THE SERVICE. WE GROW WITH YOU
Scale up/out Upgrading or scaling out the hardware, need to go through the long purchase cycles since they are capex. At the push of a button, we can provision larger instances, more storage and scale geographies.
Application Refresh Responsibility AN OPERATIONS CHALLENGE FOR YOU INCLUDED AND AUTOMATIC WITH THE SERVICE
Updates/Upgrades Upgrade deployments are typically delayed to avoid downtimes and stay away from change, leading to the customer using older versions and losing out on the benefit of the newer versions. Continuously upgraded to ensure that the customer is always using the latest capabilities

In Conclusion


A cloud Solution delivers on the solution goals, while being 3/4th the price of a comparable in-premise solution. In addition, it also delivers multiple other benefits of security, scalability, upgradability, etc, which make it a compelling value proposition.
 
(*) The rates are got from reliable sources on the Internet. Even though they are subject to change or may vary, they give a good indication of the cost and allow building out a comparison.
 
Feel free to contact us, to get a working of each of the above costs
Ready to go to the next step?
We suggest you watch a video of how email archiving works, use a live demo account of the product (no sign up required) and then sign up for a no-obligation free 30-day live trial.

Want an in-depth discussion? 
Our archival experts are ready to talk to you, one on one to suggest archival best practices, to help you manage email storage better, learn how to make use of all the archived business email for business intelligence and stay ready for regulation compliance. Contact us today.

Want to just keep updated with the latest in Email Archival?
Watch recordings of email archiving webinars to understand in depth how enterprise email archiving can benefit you. Most of our webinars are well-researched stories about live customer use cases, as narrated by the customer and an AWS team member Live.

Marketing Consultant with a career spanning 14+ years. Writes about emerging tech in cloud, collaboration, mobile, AR/VR, career advice, and digital marketing. He actively contributes to Quora, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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