If your organization is considering moving its email platform to a hosted configuration, there are plenty of things to be concerned about. For traditional Windows shops, a common question is: Do we leave Microsoft Exchange for a solution such as the Google Apps email service? While that big of a change may not be for everyone, a hosted Exchange solution may be more comfortable for many admins. Like any change in IT infrastructure, a full requirements definition and review is in order.
Among the biggest driving factor for organizations to consider migrating email, and specifically Exchange, to a hosted configuration is to address two major pain points: storage and archival. In the case of storage, the current offering from Microsoft for a hosted Exchange service is through the Microsoft Online Services line of products, with Exchange Online being the primary product. Microsoft's offering allows for the base mailboxes to be 5 GB for each online user license; additional service offerings can move the mailboxes to 25 GB or more per user. Windows and Exchange administrators may cringe at the thought of 25 GB for a mailbox, but a hosted Exchange environment is different storage. Also, the Exchange online service limits message attachments to 20 MB. For more information about the Exchange Online offering, including many details about client connectivity requirements, check out the Microsoft Online Services site.
The other rough patch for administrators to consider ripping out on-premise Exchange servers is message retention or archival. Frequently used products such as Symantec Enterprise Vault, GFI MailArchiver, or Computhink ViewWise are utilized for archival requirements of Exchange servers. The Microsoft Online Services product for Exchange Online is the Microsoft Exchange Hosted Archive (EHA). This service provides a granular configuration for archival needs for a hosted Exchange implementation. The EHA has varying configurations that you can configure to address organizational requirements; it also has a management interface for retrieving messages from other users.
Making the jump to hosted Exchange can be difficult and may not apply to all organizations. Microsoft's offering may be the most seamless, as a co-existence of the Exchange organization can be utilized for certain configurations.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.