Businesses are looking to hosted e-mail services to reduce costs and ease of management, and the choice often comes down to Google’s Gmail or a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange.
For many, the decision will hinge on the features and functions. I have provided a snippet of Pro’s from both -
Microsoft Hosted Exchange
1/ Ease of migrating your existing e-mail data, users, contacts and more. This is the biggest stumbling block for most organisations when evaluating hosted services. It’s easier to stand pat than transition to a new service. A sophisticated hosted Exchange provider has been dealing with these issues for years. They will have a heavily automated (ideally free) migration process that ports all that you’ve invested in your existing e-mail set-up to the new environment.
2/ Certified support for the tools your organisation relies on – BlackBerry and Microsoft software. If your company organisation relies heavily on Outlook and BlackBerry, and plans to continue doing so, good hosted Exchange providers can offer you the confidence that their support staff is Microsoft and RIM certified.
3/ Outlook was designed to run over Exchange, not Google Apps. So this allows you to use all the rich features of your Outlook client.
4/ Business-Class Reliability. Solid hosted Exchange providers operate multiple data centres with redundancy and multiple Tier-1 Internet connections. They deliver on 99.99% availability. That translates into less than six minutes of downtime per year. Google does not have that history with business users. With hosted Exchange 2010′s architectural improvements, a good provider can also guarantee 100% data protection – never lose your e-mail – at no additional cost.
5/ Control over the environment. Many organisations considering migration to hosted communications tools will likely continue to use other Microsoft applications on-premise. Sophisticated hosted Exchange providers can offer single sign-on experience across these applications and other benefits that come by integrating with Exchange’s Active Directory.
6/ Gone are the days where u require an Exchange Admin within your organisation. Control panels offered by Hosted Exchange providers are simple to use, your HR, Office Manager or PA can control access to your organisations email security.
7/ Experts in Hosted Exchange bundle services such as Hosted SharePoint within your plan, this allows you to incorporate even more of Outlooks file sharing features.
A great case in study is an example client Coca-Cola who has moved to Hosted Exchange from Lotus Notes.
1/ Take a minute to walk through Google’s online sign up process, and it is clear the company’s preferred mode of operation is “self serve”.
2/ One of primary knocks against Gmail for the enterprise is the lack of support for mobile devices, specifically BlackBerry.
3/ Google’s Gmail, calendar and contacts are available via a two-way sync with native applications or through installable applications on the majority of smartphones today. This includes the seamless integration with Google’s own Android-based devices that are gaining momentum in the mobile market.
4/ While it’s obvious Exchange Server and Outlook have tremendous market share in today’s enterprises, there’s no denying that Gmail and Google Apps provides a cost effective alternative.
5/ Support is lacking with most Support provided online and the user is pushed through the self service route.
6/ Are you Protected? Data Privacy concerns and laws in other country’s with data stored internationally. See latest article from IT News re Gmail. The issue is if it does happen to you, how do you protect yourself and how large is your legal bill going to be if you need to bring an action in another country.
Considering the criteria outlined above, the most important question boils down to which service, in the larger picture, adds the right value to your business. For most businesses – particularly firms with knowledge workers and others heavily dependent on cutting-edge communications software – hosted Exchange is the right answer.
What I like personally about Hosted Exchange is the ability for SME’s / SMB’s to access Enterprise Grade E-mail systems like Global organisations are using without the cost being too prohibitive.
Its interesting after so many years, web hosting provider’s who have given email away for Free with hosting plans are only now realising that for almost all, E-mail is the most critical part of the web hosting plan. If your not doing E-commerce and your site goes down for an hour, you might not even notice, but if your email goes down just for 1 hour your organisation can stop functioning. If SME’s / SMB’s can access Enterprise Email solutions at now SME prices, the decision is pretty clear.
Some Email Hosting Facts
The annual cost to organisations who need senior managers just to deal with email issues.
The number of email messages sent worldwide each day. In fact, the average worker will spend 10 years of their work life dealing with email.
The number of employees who prefer to communicate via email versus face to face. It is estimated that by 2020, this figure will be 3 in 4.