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Best hosted Email/exchange platform for a small business?

Answered Go to the full post email exchange google apps

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#16 goatsniffer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 16:03

Everything just described in the post above is what is pretty much covered in Windows SBS server.

I'm an advocate of ownership over cloud services. While your initial costs will be higher, ownership pays for itself over time. When you pay for hosted exchange you get hosted exchange. When you pay for a server you get a powerful tool for you business. So many things can require centralized AD infrastructure, copiers or VoIP phones systems.


#17 OP Kushan

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 16:04

Thanks for all the input, guys! Seems Office 365 is a clear winner. How well does it integrate with the likes of Android and iOS, though? I presume IMAP is supported, but what about thnigs like calendars and whatnot?

 

Your going to need an AD infrastructure, so you'd want a DC operating on its own and exchange running on its own, you could get a beefy server and run them as Virtual machines in Hyper-v. Then you'd need static IP address and setup rDNS records, manage your domains DNS (MX, SPF, autodiscover etc.) oh and buy a SAN SSL Certificate.

 

Then there is managing all this, which isn't a major deal IF you already are using AD, if not then look at how much the costs change:

 

New beefy server

server 2012r2

Hyper-v setup

2 x virtual servers

New AD

New Exchange

CALS for server and exchange

Managing the lot.

 

Now even after all this you have the basic setup of exchange, no failover and we've not looked at backups yet.

 

It takes quite a bit before small companies would benefit from on site rather than cloud for exchange, especially if they are not using AD to start with.

 

We actually have all of this already (aside from Exchange itself). We're not shy about grabbing new hardware when we need it and have recently upgraded all of our servers to 2012 R2. We've had AD for years. The real reason we're looking for a cloud provider is less to do with cost and more to do with assurance that someone qualified is looking after it. I'm essentially the Sysadmin and I haven't had any official training on it.



#18 Roger H.

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 16:09

You'll want to skip IMAP now since you'll have a full fledged Exchange server. It works with iPhones and Android and WM devices as well as all Outlook versions (well i think EX 2013 dropped Office XP :p)

 

Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, & Notes and eve Public Folders are included (calendars, tasks and emails and all that can go in there which means it's shareable amongst the company users) all synced to your devices as you imagine huge corporate companies do with 100,000 employees :)

 

People will also have OWA (Outlook Web App) so they can check email from any computer/device anywhere in the world if they want to send a long email. 



#19 +Bryan R.

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 16:17

Everything just described in the post above is what is pretty much covered in Windows SBS server.

I'm an advocate of ownership over cloud services. While your initial costs will be higher, ownership pays for itself over time. When you pay for hosted exchange you get hosted exchange. When you pay for a server you get a powerful tool for you business. So many things can require centralized AD infrastructure, copiers or VoIP phones systems.

Small Business Server is discontinued. So yeah, that changes a lot of what you're saying. Cloud does not exclude the possibility of a hybrid implementation with AD on-premise. Hell, you can even have hybrid Exchange with on-premise + hosted.
 

You'll want to skip IMAP now since you'll have a full fledged Exchange server. It works with iPhones and Android and WM devices as well as all Outlook versions (well i think EX 2013 dropped Office XP :p)

Office 2003 does not connect to Exchange 2013. And it's also worth noting that Office 2013 doesn't install on XP. That's something else I've run into with small businesses.



#20 goatsniffer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 16:56

Wow, that's a real anti-consumer move by Microsoft. "Take away the ability of the small business sector to help themselves and they'll have to come to us for hosted solutions."



#21 +Bryan R.

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:07

Wow, that's a real anti-consumer move by Microsoft. "Take away the ability of the small business sector to help themselves and they'll have to come to us for hosted solutions."

Pretty much.



#22 StrikedOut

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:11

Wow, that's a real anti-consumer move by Microsoft. "Take away the ability of the small business sector to help themselves and they'll have to come to us for hosted solutions."

Not gone, just changed. http://blogs.technet...ature-list.aspx



#23 Roger H.

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:12

Wow, that's a real anti-consumer move by Microsoft. "Take away the ability of the small business sector to help themselves and they'll have to come to us for hosted solutions."

 

You can see it as a good thing in some light in that small business don't need to higher an IT person/company to manage the server. 90% of the time it just works but there are times you'll need updates/reconfigs and all that which can become pretty expensive. Most of the time small business just need to be up and running with the least amount of effort.

 

Then once you start adding UPGRADES it becomes cost prohibitive  I retired some SBS 2003 R2 servers only last year and move people off to the Office 365 and they love it better for HTML email (on mobile devices) and also better Outlook support/features.With the upgrade i just saved the data and install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and integrated Office 365 into the domain and off they went.

 

I was very surprised though with the Exchange being removed from SBS as well though...



#24 goatsniffer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:14

Not gone, just changed. http://blogs.technet...ature-list.aspx

 

SBS had exchange. Now Exchange is a separate, distributor only (apparently) obtainable, component. No longer an option for smaller businesses, due to the immense cost.



#25 +Bryan R.

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:16

Not gone, just changed. http://blogs.technet...ature-list.aspx

Server 2012 R2 Essentials includes additional features pulled out such Remote Web Workplace too but still, no Exchange is a huge lose.

 

Nevermind, R2 simply improves on RWA.

http://www.techrepub...r2-essentials/ 



#26 jordanspringer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:22

Office 365 all the way. I have implemented Office 365 for about 15 small businesses and I love it and so do they. If your business uses Microsoft Office programs, Office 365 is a must. For example, Google Apps only syncs with Outlook via a plugin that can give you all sorts of problems. Outlook is designed for Exchange anyways. It's cheap too! If all you're going after is Exchange, it's only $4 per user. If your business won't have more than 25 users, you can get Exchange and MS Office desktop apps for only $12.50 per user. More than 25 users? then it's $15 per user.



#27 goatsniffer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:24

You can see it as a good thing in some light in that small business don't need to higher an IT person/company to manage the server. 90% of the time it just works but there are times you'll need updates/reconfigs and all that which can become pretty expensive. Most of the time small business just need to be up and running with the least amount of effort.

 

Then once you start adding UPGRADES it becomes cost prohibitive  I retired some SBS 2003 R2 servers only last year and move people off to the Office 365 and they love it better for HTML email and also better Outlook support.With the upgrade i just saved the data and install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and integrated Office 365 into the domain and off they went.

 

That's true, but doesn't that company still pay you for services relating to their network, server, email? My gut tells me people with hosted exchange are still paying an IT consultants, and the only thing they are cutting out is the initial exchange purchase.

 

There are a lot of different view points, and no single one will work for every business, but I always will advocate ownership and self-empowerment over trusting the company that wants your money to tell you the way to run your business. Especially since everything is Microsoft's cloud is subject to whatever is going on with NSA spying.



#28 goatsniffer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:39

Office 365 all the way. I have implemented Office 365 for about 15 small businesses and I love it and so do they. If your business uses Microsoft Office programs, Office 365 is a must. For example, Google Apps only syncs with Outlook via a plugin that can give you all sorts of problems. Outlook is designed for Exchange anyways. It's cheap too! If all you're going after is Exchange, it's only $4 per user. If your business won't have more than 25 users, you can get Exchange and MS Office desktop apps for only $12.50 per user. More than 25 users? then it's $15 per user.

 

So, you are telling me $3750 for exchange services PER YEAR for 25 employees is somehow better that what was being offered in Small Business Server 2011 Standard (75 users) which is $739.99 on Amazon right now? You could easily put this on server hardware for <$3000. Let's say it even costs you another $3000 to an IT consultant to setup. In 5 years time you are going to pay MS $18750 for exchange services, your server will only have cost you ~$7000. You can't argue paying for support would cost more with your own server, because you still need an IT consultant for other issues and even to possibly maintain a small file server (not to mention paying one for the initial setup or migration to hosted exchange services) if you have hosted exchange services. I doubt it would cost $11000 more in IT consulting services and office desktop applications for 25 users.

 

Office 365 is all about a steady stream of revenue for Microsoft, not about giving small businesses what they need and saving them money.



#29 Shadrack

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:46

Working for a fairly small company myself, who went from using Google Apps to using Office 365 with Exchange I can honestly say the two are vastly different. Exchange / Office 365 are in a totally different league to Google Apps.

 

If you use Exchange that integrates with Outlook perfectly, it will sync everything, including Email, Contacts, Calendar, Email rules and so on. You can easily access shared inbox’s e.g. info@companyname.com. See other peoples calendars, and so many other small things that just make you feel its so much more professional offering.

 

For £10 a month per user you get a licence for that user to use office on up to 5x devices, so their work PC, Laptop and even the home PC. 50gb Exchange Inbox, 25gb of storage on Sky Drive (One Drive now) access to Sharepoint, Lync and so on.

 

Basically the complete Microsoft package. It also integrates with your existing server running Server 2012 (or 2012 R2) really nicely.

I personally can’t rate it highly enough, especially for a small business. The upfront costs are small and you have the advantage of never having any massive upgrade costs, when the next version of office is out you can upgrade at no additional cost.

 

See the different plans here: http://office.micros...X102918419.aspx

 

By all means do your own research, however having used them both I recommend Office 365 / Exchange all the way.

 

I wish my company would go this route... I think maintaining our own server infrastructure is pricey.  This is pennies compared to what we are currently doing (IMO).  I don't work in IT though, so I can't say I fully understand all the ins and outs.  My work is especially sensitive of keeping everything "internal", so there may not be a proper way to use cloud for us unless management changes their mind on that.



#30 Shadrack

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 17:51

So, you are telling me $3750 for exchange services PER YEAR for 25 employees is somehow better that what was being offered in Small Business Server 2011 Standard (75 users) which is $739.99 on Amazon right now? You could easily put this on server hardware for <$3000. Let's say it even costs you another $3000 to an IT consultant to setup. In 5 years time you are going to pay MS $18750 for exchange services, your server will only have cost you ~$7000. You can't argue paying for support would cost more with your own server, because you still need an IT consultant for other issues and even to possibly maintain a small file server (not to mention paying one for the initial setup or migration to hosted exchange services) if you have hosted exchange services. I doubt it would cost $11000 more in IT consulting services and office desktop applications for 25 users.

 

Office 365 is all about a steady stream of revenue for Microsoft, not about giving small businesses what they need and saving them money.

 

There is this assumption in your post that "you already have to have an IT guy" and that "IT guy" is twiddling his thumbs mostly.  I'm not convinced that looking at expenses alone justifies your reasoning.  Our IT is worked to death.  I can think of a couple projects I want IT to do and if this frees their time I'd be all for it.