You’ve been successfully using Microsoft Exchange for years to manage your electronic communications but realize it’s time to upgrade to increase server space, upgrade technology and/or enhance security against breaches. But, does it make more sense to move to a hosted Exchange environment such as Office 365?
Unfortunately, Microsoft discontinued selling Windows Small Business Server in late 2013, which included Exchange at no additional cost. This leaves the small and medium-sized business with a significantly more costly on-premise solution. They must purchase a dedicated server and license the full stand alone version Microsoft Exchange Server 2016.
Upfront costs will most likely deter many smaller businesses to upgrade to the latest Exchange Server because of the physical server cost as well as the Microsoft licensing expense, not to mention the additional space, power and IT resources required to manage servers. In comparison, per-user licensing fees for Office 365 range from $4 to $20, depending upon subscription plans. While no exact number of employees warrants a move to a hosted exchange environment, businesses with less than 50 users typically have an easier decision and are more likely to make the move to the cloud. Larger organizations have to put a bit more thought into it as they weight the pros and cons and financial implications of either solution.
But every company has preferences and requirements for its IT operations. Here are some factors that can help you make the decision between an in-house upgrade and a hosted solution:
- Cost and Control: An on-premise Microsoft Exchange Server is ideal for companies that want to maintain in-house control of emails and a higher level of customization than offered from an “out-of-the-box” solution. Although Office 365 enterprise level plans do offer powershell access for your IT team. An on-premise solution does require a major investment in hardware and software and the IT resources to maintain it. An upgrade to Exchange Server 2016 typically requires a new robust server that will meet the sizing and prerequisite requirements to support a successful install.
Moving to a hosted Exchange plan does not require hardware expenditures because datacenters are maintained by the vendor. While costs are based on a predictable monthly subscription, different configuration options can effect pricing including mailbox size, storage preference, and performance levels. Other services such as SharePoint, archiving and office applications can be bundled easily into the package to support a wider range of company processes.
- Security: Data breaches into corporate email are reported on almost a weekly basis. That’s why many companies fear the “cloud” and want to secure emails in their own environments. But, many security breaches actually start within the organization where employees access confidential emails. To protect the in-house infrastructure, organizations must maintain a certain level of physical and digital security. Servers should be monitored round-the-clock with platforms continuously updated with the latest spam and virus solutions.
In a hosted environment, an advanced level of security is built into the environment. Microsoft Office 365 Datacenters continually obtain 3rd party audit certifications A team of security experts also monitor Exchange Online on a 24/7 basis.
- Current Technology: Even if operations are running great at the moment, companies with an in-house Exchange platform must consider the future and plan for software and hardware upgrades down the road. A hosted solution maintains the latest software version as upgrades are automatic and built into subscription costs.
- Reliability and Availability: Reports that small and mid-sized companies with in-house messaging solutions 40 hours of unplanned outages Without a disaster recovery or backup plan. If your server is not built on a highly available architecture, which cost prohibitive in many small businesses, the risk of downtime is far greater than with Office 365. With globally redundant servers and disaster recovery services, Microsoft reports a 99.9% uptime with Exchange Online.
Small businesses have a lot to think about when deciding the next move to either upgrade or move to the cloud. To continue the discussion, feel free to contact me at www.nettology.net/contact