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Microsoft Exchange Hosting considerations

Email and scheduling tools have become critical for all organizations (enterprise/SMBs). Lets take a look at what to analyze before you select an Exchange hosting provider.

You have heard these jargons all over- hosted exchange is cheap, easy to deal , keeps you focused on your core business goals, let us handle your Exchange environment from all over…

Not at all companies deliver what they promise you or take you for a ride about Exchange Hosting.

But given the factors of pondering for a hosted Exchange provider, brush up with the below facts before zeroing on a Hosted Exchange Provider.

 

Reliability (Uptime Guarantee):

  • The biggest factor to check out about the hosting provider is reliability. The provider should have high uptimes in the past- giving a good account of reliability in SLA/SLO providing 99.9 % uptime.
  • Get the Uptime with financial factors in the contract resulting in higher availability.

Key Elements (Server, Storage, Network):

Three key ingredients driving your selection should be Server, Storage, Network.

Ensure they have

  • servers based on a passive- active cluster server configuration to have a seamless failover when a cluster node is unavailable.
  • Redundant and load-balancers for Exchange front end servers.
  • Raid and SAN concepts are in place to ensure, no single of point of failure from Storage aspect.
  • From network space, they should ideally have different points ( to manage traffic flow to internet and performance on server)

Support Efficiency:

Ensure that you get

  • Round the clock monitoring for your Exchange server infrastructure with 24*7 technical assistance. Certainly the size of the hosting firm doesn’t matter (possibly you can go in for SMBs but ensure you get 24*7 support).
  • The above feature includes two pieces- basic support /advanced support. What you may need to look out is on a basic level- 99.9 % uptime, daily backups, chat/phone support. You also should check out for support for your administrators to ensure that you are not involved way too much in setting up things for your organization.
  • Data Center is a robust one (redundant power, cooling and network connections), having good DR scenes established in case of emergencies/natural calamities.
  • Moving to provider who has an equal/higher version and definitely not lower version. Lot of providers are still on E2007 in hosting Exchange.

Cost:

  • Check out the pricing mechanism laid by the provider as often, you may be charged on the basis of the mail access protocol (POP3/IMAP or MAPI).
  • You need to get the catch here, based on your environment (sophistication desired) you could choose the mail access protocol. So if you don’t need advanced mobile push/sync features, go in for the simple POP3 account, this will be less expensive. However if you desire or have an environment that comprises of lot of users using hi- end smart phones, then you better choose MAPI or IMAP as they allow superior synchronization of email files on systems and mobile phones.

Simplicity (Ease of Use):

  • It should have an easy to use web based control panel facilitating easier functionality. It should also provide seamless performance with Outlook, OWA and so on..
  • Look at options of how easy will it be to migrate your emails (existing) or do they assist you in this movement (free/charge basis).
  • Creating new users, new distribution lists, and so forth should be easy to deal with.
  • It should have a smooth transition to mailbox numbers, as the size of your company grows. This also deals with existing mailboxes getting larger in size too.

Migration:

  • PST Files are a big deal for all firms not just in terms of importance but also management and retention. Moving your PST files, public folders and other viable records are important aspects to be looked.

Expertise:

  • Do check the competency level of the hosting provider’s team. Ensure , they are Microsoft Gold Certified for Hosting. The reason for checking and ensuring this expertise is, Microsoft validates the hosting capabilities through this certification.

Archiving:

  • Check out archiving functionality. This is significant because you have to ensure your organization’s compliance for message journaling fulfilling HIPAA requirements.
  • It should have the ease of letting you choose the level of archiving you desire (basic /advanced archiving).

Add-ons:

Directory synchronization tools, disaster recovery backup solutions, mobile device support, SharePoint collaboration portals can be few additonal factors that you can look for.

AntiSpam Management :

  • Software patches and anti virus/anti spam updates for full protection.

Security of the DataCenter of the Hosting Provider:

  • The datacenter of the Provider should have high security for the premises. Sophisticated CCTV cameras with latest technology- controlled ID key cards, motion sensors etc etc..

To conclude, I will say that today you have amazing number of options to choose from. This in a way indirectly means that you will get better pricing, lot of add-on features but CHOOSE WISELY!

Ratish Nair
MVP Exchange
Team@ MSExchangeGuru

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