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Network services investment guide - Gaynor M.

Gaynor M. Network services investment guide - wiley publishing , 2003. - 322 p.
ISBN 0-471-21475-2
Download (direct link): networkservicesinvestment2003.pdf
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Email Case Study 123
As email history shows and as current usage illustrates, all three structures can and do interoperate. Some diehard users really do run email servers on their desktop with themselves as the only email client reading email sent to their private email server. Many users have email accounts that identify them with either an ISP or an organization. The most popular type of email service today, however, is the massive centralized architecture; think about how many people you know who have email addresses ending in or
124 Chapter 8
ISP-Web versus Web-Based Email
ISP-based email systems, such as MediaOne Roadrunner, and Web-based email, such as Hotmail or Yahoo!, are based on the same Internet standard and have a similar Web-based user interface, but they are fundamentally different from a management point of view. The distributed management of ISP email (even when it uses a Web-based interface) contrasts with the centralized management of Web-based email. This is true from the scope of management viewpoint and the data management style. Both systems are completely compatible with Internet email specifications and are able to send and receive messages from and to each other and any other Internet email system. This split of email into centralized and distributed implementations gives users a choice, providing a good test for the theories in this book.
ISP-Web email is what most users have bundled with their ISP Internet account. There are many examples of this, including giant ISPs such as AOL and UUnet, cable providers such as MediaOne and USA, and dial-up ISP accounts bundled with a PC such as Dell-Net and MSN-Net. The address of the user's email reflects the ISP the user is associated with for example, <user_name> or <user_name> This provides a lock-in, making it expensive for the user to switch ISPs because the email address must also change. Most Web users are paying for ISP email because they need the ISP for basic Internet access and have no way to unbundle the service.
ISP-Web email has a distributed management style for two reasons. First, users of ISP-Web mail must be members of the ISP. For example, I have a cable modem with MediaOne; it is my ISP and provides me with email, basic IP, and a default Web portal page. Users may have several ISPs, with each ISP associated with an email address. This one-to-one association between your ISP and email account is distributed in nature because each ISP manages its email service independently of the others. ISPs can be very small or very large. Second, consider the management of data. Most end users of ISP-based email manage the messages on their own systems1. This makes it hard to use several computers for accessing email because you need to transfer email to different systems. Both the management scope and management of data have a distributed structure with ISP-Web email.
1AOL is one exception to this; it manages the users' messages. AOL is the most centralized of the ISP-type services because of this.
Email Case Study 125
In contrast to this distributed nature of ISP email is the centralized management structure of Web-based email systems. These services, such as Hot-mail and Yahoo!, provide email service to users of any ISP because the email account is not linked to any particular ISP. This means the user can change ISPs but keep the same email address. This implies a centralized scope of management. User messages of these Web-based email systems are managed on the email server, not on the users local system. (Note that IMAP does allow ISPs to offer users the option of letting the ISP manage the users' email messages, as Figure 8.5(b) illustrates, but this is not widely implemented.) This makes it easy for users to access their email from any system, anywhere, as long as they have Web access. Both the management scope and management of data have a centralized structure with Web-based email.
The comparison of ISP-Web mail to Web-based email is a good example to test this book's theory, which links market uncertainty to the value of a centralized versus a distributed management structure. Both systems provide a similar user interface via the Web. Most users of Web-based systems also have ISP-Web email bundled with their Internet service. These two types of email give users a choice of systems with similar service and user interface, but very different management structures. The growth of Web-based email has been explosive. By 1999, more Web-based email boxes existed in the United States and internationally than the total number of ISP-based email accounts [4], illustrating that users are choosing the more centralized management structure of Web-based email. This theory implies that when market uncertainty is low, the centralized structure of Web-based email will work well for more and more users.
Evidence of Shift
The evidence of email shifting to a more centralized management structure is the growth of Web-based email mailboxes and the number of different services offering Web-based email services. The growth of Web-based email shown in Figure 8.6 is phenomenal, starting at close to zero in 1996 and growing to more than 280 million Web-based email boxes in 2001 [10]. This is greater than the total number of ISP email accounts. Web-based email now represents the greatest percentage of mailboxes, both domestically and internationally [4]. According to industry sources [10], there are so many free sources of Web-based email that compiling a comprehensive list is impossible. Based on what users are doing, the shift to centrally managed Web-based email is clear.
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