In the era of free-software, the first and foremost web based email that radically changed the way people started using internet is HOTMAIL. It's success paved way to number of other internet startups. So many other web based email providers mushroomed till Google came with another game changing web based mail program GMAIL. What is unique about this program? It offered unlimited storage!!! Others followed suit but the success of GMAIL is exponential.
However, the usage of this email software is mostly limited to personal use. The business owners would like to retain their brand name in their mail identities. Having their own company email identity
- gives the impression to the recipients that they are dealing with an established company
- gains trust of several corporate firewalls, who normally block emails coming from personal ids
For Small business owners having a dedicated server to host emails is an expensive affair. It attracts investment in hardware, Server Operating System and email software like exchange server etc. Third party hosting companies comes to rescue by providing hosted email software. The services offered by them varies
- charge for number of users with dedicated email space
- charge for dedicated email space with unlimited email accounts
- provide free email along with web hosting. However the email space may be limited to the amount of dedicated space provided by web host.
Most of them support POP3 and IMAP protocal that allows you to configure your favorite email clients, Outlook, Blackberry, Iphone, thunderbird etc.
Early 2007, Google started a new service that gave the hosing companies run for their money, 'Google Apps'. Small business owners can have their own custom email identities without having to pay a dime. There is a limit on number of users and the space used. But I believe this is sufficient enough to use in organization with less than 50 users.
Next comes the big question how do I use this service?
1. Signup for Google Apps standard edition using the URL listed, http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html
2. Follow the step-by-step instructions during the signup process.
3. Final step is to alter the CNAME record for which you need to login to the account provided by your domain registrar.