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Large Web Host Urges Customers to Use Gmail 436

Posted by timothy
from the conceding-loss dept.
1sockchuck writes "LA hosting company DreamHost, which hosts more than 700,000 web sites, is encouraging its customers to use Google's Gmail for their e-mail, rather than the DreamHost mail servers. DreamHost is continuing to support all its existing e-mail offerings, but said in a blog post that email is "just not something people are looking for from us, and it's something the big free email providers like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google can do better." DreamHost addresses a question about Google that has vexed many web hosting companies: is Google a useful partner, or a competitor that intends to make "traditional" web hosting companies obsolete? In this case, partnering with Google offers DreamHost a way to offload many of its trouble tickets, reducing the support overhead. Is Google starting to make web hosts less necessary?"
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Large Web Host Urges Customers to Use Gmail

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  • Webmail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:29AM (#23555033)
    For me non-webmail is a thing of the past, I love being able to easily access my mail from any computer anywhere (and I'm on quite a lot of different ones on different places). And GMail is the best of all webmails, so they sure made a good choice!
    • by jeiler (1106393)

      Ditto. Gmail has one of the best spam filters around, and the convenience of POP3 or webmail.

      Now with Google getting into hosting, competition could rear its ugly head ... but would it? Google is competing with free webhosts such as Geocities, but I really don't see it as competition for paid webhosting ... yet.

      • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:49AM (#23555325) Journal
        For me, GMail equals unprofessional. It equals Mom and Pop.

        It means you can't even afford to run your own mail server or have someone do it for you.

        It means not knowing if the person I'm dealing with is really associated with the domain or the business in question.

        It means that my communications are being scanned by a third party, and that I should self-censor accordingly.

        It just doesn't reflect well on a person to use GMail for business, in my opinion, and would make me seriously question the credibility of the business.
        • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:58AM (#23555459)

          For me, GMail equals unprofessional. It equals Mom and Pop. It means you can't even afford to run your own mail server or have someone do it for you. It means not knowing if the person I'm dealing with is really associated with the domain or the business in question.
          Last I checked, you could pay for Gmail and use your own domain name.
          • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:25AM (#23555839)

            For me, GMail equals unprofessional. It equals Mom and Pop...
            Last I checked, you could pay for Gmail and use your own domain name.
            Actually it's free for your own domain for the same services as a generic gmail account. You only need to pay for it if you want 24/7 phone support and an obscene amount of HDD space. I host a few dozen websites for clients. I've converted most of them over to gmail using their own domain names. I can even remove the gmail logo so it isn't obvious they're using gmail.
            • Google Apps [google.com].
            • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:54PM (#23559145)
              My company has 3 domains that are set up with google apps. Obviously, all of our mail goes directly to user@mycompany.com. Google provides the mail servers and a web based interface, as well as calendar, chat and a couple other collaboration tools that all stay neatly contained in our domain. We also moved our customer management system off site to a server running SugarCRM, for those of you who know what that is.

              Now, this is where things start to get interesting. Our ISP, E-LEVEN, got into a spat with its backbone provider, Belgacom. Belgacom cut them off, and we were left without internet in the office for over a week. May is a very bad time for this to happen: we sell summer travel and May is the month where we make most of our sales. Thanks to Google Apps, we didn't miss a beat. We just forwarded the phone lines to employees' home phones and sent everybody home to work. Employees communicated with google chat, customers experienced no lag in their response times and we were literally saved. Since our customer DB was off-site and web-based as well, it was a completely transparent transition.

              We got our lines back in the office and went back to work in the office for obvious managerial/supervision reasons, but that week was the most the productive we have had in years.

              Anybody who doesn't think google apps is an excellent solution for small business either doesn't have any idea how small business work or doesn't know how google apps works.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Bitsy Boffin (110334)
                So you sent people home, and productivity went up, so for "management reasons" you brought everybody back, to the low productivity work environment. What does this tell you about your managers.
          • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Informative)

            by tgd (2822) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:31AM (#23555929)
            Last I checked the six domains I have sitting on GMail, you can use your own domain name for free.
        • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Interesting)

          by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc...paradise@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:59AM (#23555467) Homepage Journal

          gmail doesn't reveal that it is being used - you still manage myemail@mydomain.com; it's not forwarded. I suppose if you inspect full email headers you'll find a google mail server handling the message, but the vast majority of people don't bother.

          Still, it's a valid point that people should be considering - when you start using gmail for your business, you're giving them permission to mine your business data.

        • True, but gmail could pretty easily set up their servers to accept emails to other domains if those domains were partnered or something. Then you'd just have to set your MX record to point to their IP and log in with your account. I don't think they do this yet, but they do already have business solutions [google.com] that use gmail so I wouldn't count it out.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mark_hill97 (897586)
            They already do that, and its quite easy to set up. You just have to set the mx records and place a file in the root of the server to authenticate that you are the one controlling the server
        • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jafuser (112236) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:07AM (#23555593)

          It means that my communications are being scanned by a third party, and that I should self-censor accordingly.
          If your mail passes through the USA, this is unavoidable.
        • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ibmjones (52133) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:11AM (#23555645) Homepage
          It means that my communications are being scanned by a third party, and that I should self-censor accordingly.

          Most email are sent plain-text, so it doesn't take much effort to scan the contents. That is why you use PGP. :)
        • Re:Webmail (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dk.r*nger (460754) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:12AM (#23555667)

          It means you can't even afford to run your own mail server or have someone do it for you.
          Yeah, or that I know that my business is not running emailservers, and my time is better spend doing other stuff...

          This might matter in the "we run Exchange-server because we're ENTERPRISE and important"-segment, but in the "getting shit done" segment, GMail is very very very good value for money ($0 or $50/user/year for the ENTERPRISE-woo-we're-important-plan).

          Oh, and you do know that you can use your own domain on GMail, completely transparently, right?

        • It means that my communications are being scanned by a third party, and that I should self-censor accordingly.

          What gives you the impression that any other web host wouldn't also be doing this? Do you self censor when sending through any system that does spam detection? They're "scanning" your messages too you know.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jeiler (1106393)

          For me, GMail equals unprofessional. It equals Mom and Pop.

          For a business? Absolutely, although it doesn't to some people. But for a home account or hobby account? Not so much.

        • Yes, but you can also use Google Apps, which means everything goes through Google - your MX records, etc. - but you keep your domain.

          I use two different domains for email through Dreamhost. My primary domain has it's email set up through Dreamhost, meaning I use their MX records and my webmail is the default SquirrelMail, and my other domain - one that relies on better interaction with my members - has a Google Apps backdrop. They both serve me well, and it should be noted that I bring both of them in throu
        • by afidel (530433)
          Just use google apps, it gives you the ability to use the gmail interface with your own domain =)
    • Not just webmail (Score:5, Informative)

      by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:42AM (#23555217) Homepage Journal
      For me non-webmail is a thing of the past, I love being able to easily access my mail from any computer anywhere (and I'm on quite a lot of different ones on different places). And GMail is the best of all webmails, so they sure made a good choice!

      For those who want a bit more than simply webmail, there is also the SMTP and IMAP interfaces offered by GMail.
    • Re:Webmail (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ngarrang (1023425) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:50AM (#23555351) Journal
      Use the correct tool for the job. Google makes for a wonderful mail host. You can still have your name@company.com address through their mail servers while gaining access to their superior spam-filtering and fantastic uptime.

      There will always be a need for web hosters, though a different niche may need to be found. For example, not ever host offers PHP, or Python, or fill-in-name-of-technology and that is where the hosters can differentiate themselves from the free providers like Google, geocities.

      From previous experience, e-mail seems to be the red-headed step-child in the service package that a web host offers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by elventear (868128)
      My concern is that email would, for some reason or another take all my information hostage. What kind of accountability would Google offer for a free service, in contrast to the one offered by Dreamhost?
    • I love being able to easily access my mail from any computer anywhere

      You forgot to mention "anywhere where I have an internet connection". This is why I still prefer a classic e-mail client.
      • So utilise Gmails POP3 or IMAP interfaces and use a classic email client...
    • Heck, I'm not even a business, and I prefer to run my own mail servers, thanks. I have full control over what comes to them, how I'm authenticated for smtp, etc. If I need a web interface, there's squirrelmail (I haven't had to do this yet, however, since I can do imaps and authenticated smtp with tls, or even pine over an ssh session, if necessary).

      I realize this is not for everybody, but for my own use, I can do it better than gmail (mimedefang, milter-greylist, aliases, procmail, spamassassin...all con
    • I use Dreamhost and their email is accessible by webmail if desired. They use http://www.squirrelmail.org/ [squirrelmail.org]squirrelmail. It's automatically set up at mail.yourdomain.com at works fairly well. They have a support wiki set up with their email and webmail config, with details on a bunch of different email clients. My customers I've set up with it like the flexibility of having both a desktop email client at the office and access to the webmail portion when they're away (One of my big customers is a used car dea
  • STREWTH (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kamineko (851857) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:32AM (#23555075)
    Strewth! I use Dreamhost for my hosting, and their uptime is a bit pants. (There's many websites dedicated to how terrible DH is. Many, many websites.)

    This announcement just makes them seem wonderfully credible, don't you think?

    Are there any good, big hosts located in the UK?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WK2 (1072560)
      I'm really happy with nearlyfreespeech.net. It's not in the UK, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by telbij (465356)

      (There's many websites dedicated to how terrible DH is. Many, many websites.)

      The vast majority of which are written by ignorant script kiddies who think that for $10/month they should be allowed to utilize unlimited resources and slow down the server for everyone else on it. So they make a big stink about it publicly then go to some other shared host where they inevitably make life miserable for 50 other customers on whatever server they get assigned to (I've been on the receiving end of this and it's not

      • by Mike89 (1006497)
        The issue is, you can't fill your monthly transfer quota without 'slowing the server down'. They still get you for CPU use, even when you're serving static content (eg. images) and not even close to the monthly limits.
  • I just prefer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:32AM (#23555077) Homepage Journal
    I just prefer to set up and run my own email server from home.

    That way, I can handle spam they way I want, set up accounts for friends if need be (or businesses)

    At the very least..."I" know who is storing and reading my mail. Me, not some corporation that holds it, reads it to display ads....and turns it over to the govt. at the govt's whim.

    • by jeiler (1106393) <go.bugger.offNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:36AM (#23555121) Journal
      You can stop the storage company from turning things over to the govt by removing the company from the equation ... but how do you stop the transiting ISPs from turning things over?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mortonda (5175)
        Transiting ISPS would have to snif traffic to catch my email, which is doable but a large task. My email server also has TLS available, and a lot of sites actually do use it... which makes it unsniffable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nursie (632944)
        Use encryption opportunistically, that helps, any comms between known hosts in your web of trust are then impenetrable to anyone but you.
        • by jeiler (1106393)
          If I were to use encryption, I would encrypt everything--and would send dummy messages on a regular basis to avoid traffic pattern analysis. The actual process is trivial, but even with strong encryption, if you are being watched and you only encrypt to certain parties, those who watch you will also know who else to watch.
          • by Nursie (632944)
            Well that's true, but you still have to communicate with parties who don't use encryption, or at least you do if you want a functional, general purpose email system.

            Whilst it's not good protection if you've already attracted serious suspicion to yourself, it ought to keep you clear of random traffic scans and any consequences associated with your ISP retaining large quantities of packet logs.

            And yes, if you are into doing this fully and properly, you would find a large variety of unrelated hosts that would
    • by Nursie (632944)
      Ditto, I have a small, low power box with my own setup.

      I have control over the whole thing and nobody gets my data.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#23555139)
    My company switched to useing gmail. Primarly because it is too expensive to keep our mail server running smoothly. The mail server is one of the most volnerable parts on your network, Linux/Unix or not it is a huge security risk. And it needs to be kept up todate constently, Reconfigured spam filters... For a company mail server is very expensive. And if gmail is willing to do this for Free even though we get adds, we end up with a better email service for less costs. We switched and we are getting less Spam, out internet connection speed is better (slightly). And we are getting mail more relabably.
    The employees can check their mail remotly. Management is happy they are not getting killed with Spam, and the office can be left uninteded and locked up for Weeks.
    • That's all fine and good for you. However, you do understand that you have no real control over Google's spam filters. Are you sure that Google never throws away a good message?

      Perhaps in your business it's OK to potentially miss a message or two every now and then. Where I've worked, we ran our own mail servers and controlled the anti-spam software so if it was too restrictive we could tweak it. We operated on the assumption that it was better to get some spam than to miss real messages. At my la
      • by JayAEU (33022)

        Where I've worked, we ran our own mail servers and controlled the anti-spam software so if it was too restrictive we could tweak it. [...] we simply could not miss any messages from certain clients [...].

        I hope you're aware that email is not suitable for reliable communications. There's so much that can go wrong before the email actually arrives at your mailserver that it's not even funny.

        I would like to hear what your procedure was to handle clients that insist that they sent you a message when in fact their message got lost long before your boundary of control.

  • by jalefkowit (101585) <jasonNO@SPAMjasonlefkowitz.net> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:39AM (#23555167) Homepage
    ... and if they require me to pipe my mail through Google, I'll take my business somewhere that doesn't.
  • ... to save on bandwidth costs and spam appliances.Sound business strategy and relieves your email headaches! Until Google gets serious into the webhost business and you just gave them a list of all your customers. Or Googles spam filters start throwing your invoices into the spam folder. GENIUS!

    This is why companies never do joint ventures unless forced.
  • We've had more clients sign up with us looking for what they usually call "real" email then anything else in the past 6 months or so. Though we focus on businesses and most clients require some kind of complex hosting solution, a number of small businesses have signed up looking for something other then their current provider, usually either comcast, yahoo or gmail.

    I can think of many reasons for Dreamhost to do this, as providing good email service can be difficult, especially with the spammers and variou
  • partnering with Google offers DreamHost a way to offload many of its trouble tickets, reducing the support overhead. Is Google starting to make web hosts less necessary?

    One of the things I don't like about free software is that it basically pays for itself off the profits of an unrelated industry, eliminating competition in an otherwise viable industry because someone can afford to offer the service for free as a loss leader to other business.

    A thing that is especially troublesome is that not only does it basically make it so that no one can afford to be in the business area (software development for money) competing with the free thing (software given away for nothing), but also no one can afford not to use the free thing because the cost of the luxury of buying an alternative brand will be exposed by the market as superfluous if passed along to end users.

    It seems to me that if this becomes a trend, it will be the effective continuation of that paradigm shift by Google into another area, and that the logical continuation of this, by analogy, would be that not only can no one afford to compete with Google and other agencies giving away free mail but no one will be able to afford not to use Google's mail.

    That would be sad if it turns out that there are reasons why using Google's mail is not a good idea... such as, for example, concerns about privacy.

    If Google becomes the standard of mail, the problem is that it can afford to add incidental services in parity with any nuisance it causes, making it impossible for would-be competitors to match on a value-point by value-point basis even if they find a way that should theoretically be able to compete.

    • by WK2 (1072560)
      There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of email services. Most of them are free, but you can pay if you want. There is no threat of Gmail being the only email provider in the foreseeable future.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      In this instance it's hard to argue that GMail is a loss leader. Free email has always been an ad-subsidised product, and GMail is the same. I'm not sure what high-marging goods you think Google is selling which could be subsidising it.
    • by homer_s (799572) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:46AM (#23556181)
      ...eliminating competition in an otherwise viable industry because someone can afford to offer the service for free as a loss leader to other business.

      You should read Bastiat's petition [bastiat.org] to block out the sun.
      You are leaving out the benefits to the end user due to the cheap/free software. It is the classic "Seen vs Unseen".(Of course, if your point about "profiting off an unrelated industry" is true, then it is theft and hence wrong. But I don't believe that that is true.)

      but also no one can afford not to use the free thing because the cost of the luxury of buying an alternative brand will be exposed by the market as superfluous if passed along to end users.

      Yes. That is a feature, not a bug.
      Either the alternative brand has some value, which end users will pay for or its value is not worth anything and the end users are not willing to pay for it.

      The mistake you are making is that you value competition for its own sake. Competition (and producers) exist only for the sake of the end consumer. If the consumer can obtain what he wants for a low cost or for free, then there is no need for competition or producers.
      This is also the mistake people make when they argue against free-trade and monopolies.
  • by timjones (78467) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:49AM (#23555327) Homepage
    I'm a very small webhost provider (< 20 domains), and for me, it was a no brainer to get all my customers to get GMail for Domains, point all their MX records to Google, and wash my hands of the SPAM. I use it for all my personal domains as well. Google does a far better job of SPAM filtering than I ever could with SpamAssassin and the blacklists thing... and for this small set of users (< 50 people total), it just wasn't worth it. My tech life got a lot easier when I decided I wasn't going to mess with email anymore, just like the day I decided I was going to ignore Microsoft's APIs. Both are losing propositions in the extreme. So, for me, Google is a VERY useful partner. And I like their web/chat interface too, both the browser version and the mobile edition, which I access from my Treo 650.
  • by snarfies (115214) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:55AM (#23555421) Homepage
    1) I have run websites for three different local anime clubs over the years. In all cases I wanted a webhost that had pre-installed mailing list software (mailman preferred, but I'd go for whatever). A lot of webhosts may or may not offer mailing lists, they don't specify - that also means they lose, do not want.

    2) I said this before in a largely-unrelated story, but I'll say it again here because its relevant: I own otakubell.com, and its primary purpose (nowadays) is email. Its my server, its my domain (registered through an independent registrar, not tied to the hosting). I don't have to worry about Yahoo or Google suffering a security breach. I don't have to worry about them mining my email for advertising data. And I certainly have a hell of a lot less spam (my Yahoo email account gets HUNDREDS of spam messages every week). If the webhost screws up, I can point my domain elsewhere (hit upon routhost a few years ago, have been quite satisfied). You, on the other hand, are stuck if Google or Yahoo screw up.
  • The main cause of those trouble tickets is spam. If spam didn't exist email would be cake to do. As it is, spam is difficult to deal with, and the larger, more central sites can do a much more effective job of dealing with it. Of course some people prefer to deal with it themselves. Do you?
  • Playing with fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AppyPappy (64817) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:16AM (#23555717)
    I set up my wife with a free email account which she used for sending emails to Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc. After a few years, they canceled her account for spamming. I thought I would never hear the end of that. She still brings it up.

    If you have a free account, don't expect a whole pile of customer support. If they decide to cancel some VP's account, it just sucks to be you.
  • I read Dreamhost's message. Let's put argument aside for a moment and say the only thing they should do well is web hosting.

    Here is an uptime I just did on their server -

    $ uptime
    07:15:21 up 22 days, 2:43, 4 users, load average: 7.05, 5.09, 4.96
    $ cat /proc/cpuinfo |grep processor
    processor : 0
    processor : 1

    This is quite typical for them. My web sites are on a two processor system, which means the load average shouldn't really go above 2, yet it is above 7 currently, and this is quite common. Somet

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:39AM (#23556061)
    A few comments seem to suggest that using gmail for your business is "unprofessional".

    Gmail can host email for your domain. You manage your domain, Gmail hosts your mail - most people will not realize that your email is kept at Gmail's servers.

    This product grew out of the Postini merger. Many, many companies use Postini for "front-end" email security and filtering. Your domain's MX records point to Postini's mail servers. Postini receives your mail, scans it, filters it, and then delivers it to your mail servers. I've used Postini's service in the past, and it is an awesome service.

    The only difference with Gmail is that the mail now is not forwarded to your mail server, it is kept at Gmail.

    Unprofessional? Hardly.

    -ted

  • Said it before (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:51AM (#23556243)
    Google is the start of the factrification of the IT sector, they are the new Arkwrights.

    It's basically an IT factory, providing the same service to hundreds of millions. Where smaller scale and family businesses might have performed those particular services before. Have a look at what happened during the Industrial Revolution for an example of what's coming. I'm sure there will even be some new age Luddites protesting against the changes.

    It's simply the economics of increasing availabilty of bandwidth.

     

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