For messaging, productivity and other business functions, companies need to make a well-informed decision between locally hosted applications and virtualization technology, according to IT World.

While Microsoft Outlook offers a number of significant advantages - including smooth connectivity with Exchange Server and SharePoint - Gmail is the app to beat as far as messaging goes, the publication said. Thunderbird is another desktop client that provides extensive functionality, but add-ons are needed to make it work correctly.

Productivity-wise, Google fares less well against offerings from Microsoft and Mozilla, as Docs loses out badly in most comparisons with Office and other document formats beyond cost and accessibility, IT World reported. Docs is still acceptable for basic word-processing, however.

There is some type of basic cloud service available for almost every central business function, the website added, from graphics and web editing to financial management.

Other experts note that backup and recovery tasks are frequently made easier by virtualized infrastructure, allowing companies to quickly restore critical data from off-site servers in order to provide uninterrupted service.

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