DreamHost, one of the largest shared hosting specialists in the United States, 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 in a blog post last Friday, co-founder Josh Jones outlined some of the reasons why the company is nudging its customers towards Gmail:
Just over HALF of all the support requests we get are about email. Everything else we offer, combined, doesn't add up to the amount of trouble, expense, use, and effort that goes into "simple" old email. And that's kind of funny, because as far as I can tell, almost nobody CHOOSES a web host based on their email features. Everybody's just looking at how much disk/bandwidth they get, what version of PHP they run, how good their support is, do they have a funny blog, is their CEO really studly, do the data centers have water beds, and so on ...
Along the way, Jones addresses a question that has vexed many web hosting companies: is Google a useful partner, or a competitor that intends to make "traditional" web hosting companies obsolete?
DreamHost has clearly concluded that partnering with Google offers a way for the company to offload many of its most "annoying" trouble tickets, reducing the overhead for its hosting support staff. More from Jones:
It's 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. In fact, as you've maybe already seen, we recently made it very easy to use Gmail for all your email hosting with us, still at your own domain!
Will other large hosts follow DreamHost's lead? Will Microsoft-centric hosts begin outsourcing email service to Windows Live Hotmail? This is a trend with interesting implications for the relationships between hosting companies and the leading cloud-builders, as well as the hosting companies and their customers.