Due to the fact that technology has moved ahead at breakneck speeds in recent years, businesses have needed to adapt to the ever-evolving demands of infrastructure and communications. One prime example of this is the phenomenon of moving a traditional in-house email service to the cloud. In truth, there are a number of unique benefits that cloud-based services can offer and several considerations need to be made when contemplating such a move. So, let us examine the advantages of utilising cloud-based servers and how these amenities can translate directly to company’s email platform.
What is a Hosted Exchange?
While some may be unfamiliar with this term, the majority of business environments utilise some form of a hosted email solution, known by either Hosted Exchange or more recently Microsoft Exchange Online – see Microsofts dedicated website here.
As the name denotes, this type of service employs cloud-based computing software to handle all incoming and outgoing emails. All emails are managed off site by a provider, thus this type of platform is ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses that may handle an appreciable amount of emails. This is obviously quite different from traditional methods, so it proves wise to examine the pros and cons of each.
Hosted Exchange Versus an In-House Server.
In a hosted exchange service, the biggest advantage is the potential cost savings that are involved. This can be deceptive, for many businesses may tout the advantage of not have to pay a monthly subscription rate for their on service. However, the main logistical and economic benefits are:
- Less energy consumption, as the server is in the cloud.
- All maintenance upgrades are carried out in the virtual world.
- This system is easily scalable; allowing for an increase or decrease of dedicated emails as the need arises.
- A monthly fee can be dramatically less than an in-house system that provides for multiple accounts.
- On the contrary, some of the main benefits of in-house servers are:
- No monthly subscription service.
- All upgrades and maintenance performed in-house, thus mitigating external security threats.
- Ideal for smaller businesses that are concerned about per-user costs.
From an economic standpoint, these are important facts to consider. However, there are also distinct technological differences between these two platforms. The main advantages of a hosted exchange are:
- Virtual access from outside the office is easy.
- Little downtime and reliable backup servers in the event of an incident.
- An undeniable emphasis on security in the cloud.
- Excellent levels of technical support.
- The ability to integrate multiple devices into this service.
- Centralised data storage.
To present an objective picture, these benefits need to be weighed carefully against those offered by in-house servers – their main advantages being:
- All emails never leave the office network.
- Less of a load on broadband during peak email hours.
- The configuration of the server is under the complete control of our IT Support department.
Nonetheless, hosted exchanges are well-suited for businesses that are experiencing or intend to experience a large volume of email, or simply smaller enterprises that are expected to grow dramatically in the near future
One of the undeniable ecological factors that needs to be addressed is the comparatively less energy usage that hosted exchanges provide. Not only will this reduce monthly costs, but it will also have a positive aspect on the environment. Additionally, there is no physical hardware that may need to be changed, repaired or replaced. Thus, there is overall less waste.
It is important to finally examine the main functional points of a hosted exchange. From a business owner’s perspective, the flexibility of cloud-based emails is one of the strongest advantages. Software can be added and subtracted as needed, and with little downtime. Cloud-based servers need to guarantee that the entire network stays running. Simply stated, this is how they maintain their business. Hosted networks offer centralised architecture. This allows for easy access by authorised personnel while in and out of the office. Once again, the main functional benefits of this service are:
- Little, if any downtime.
- Centralised platforms to access all emails
In contrast, in-house servers will frequently possess a number of drawbacks including:
- Much less flexibility.
- Higher chances of network downtime.
- Lengthy upgrade periods.
- The risk of possible internal data theft.
- High email volumes can lead to slow response times.
While this analysis is intended to provide a general overview of the pros and cons of each framework, it should be clear that hosted exchanges are quickly becoming the email platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Email from the cloud is constantly evolving and it can be expected that future innovations will allow this software to become even more streamlined and integrated into the business world.
Exchange Online Email page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchange_Online#Exchange_Online
Typical example of an Exchange Online supplier - http://www.ouritdept.co.uk/
Office 365, incorporating Exchange Online - http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/
About the Author: David is currently writing a series of technology articles for various organisations in the US and in the UK. Currently working as a full-time marketing consultant for a living, David has many years’ experience in the IT Sector, helping businesses understand the cloud and how it can be used to improve their business.
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