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Q: I have seen advertised Hosted Exchange Server Email. Is it suitable for my business?

A: In order to answer the question, we just need to understand what Hosted Exchange is.

Throughout the world many companies have installed and network “Server”. These can run a product called Microsoft Exchange Server. This handles a company’s email and communication between themselves and the outside world. Typically it will allow you to connect and use a product such as Microsoft Outlook as a business tool. You can then communicate easily and share information with fellow colleagues, groups and wide area networks. Typical examples of this sharing your calendars, contacts or sharing email boxes. This is all centrally stored and managed on your network server, in your own building. A typical investment may be £6,000 to £8,000 to buy all the hardware and software required to run this business tool.

For many companies email is there primary business tool, and being able to stay in touch and communicate effectively is vital. Hosted Exchange Servers give you all the advantages of the Microsoft product, but without the upfront investment or the maintenance costs associated with network servers, and it’s all hosted online.

A typically cost would be £5 per user per month. So if you have a small business of 5 or 10 employees then this can be a real cost saving. As many companies also introduce flexible working, and remote home workers, it can be more efficient to host your email in a vast data centre where you do not have the responsibility or running costs associated with such hardware.

Microsoft have called this “BPOS” – Business Productivity Online Standard Suite – which includes Exchange as part of the suite. Other vendors are also providing these services using the Microsoft based platforms.

A BPOS or Hosted Exchange Solution is easy to deploy, centrally administered and has no major capital outlay, but all the advantages of a unified and secure messaging and collaboration tool. The down side – someone else holds your company data, and it’s out there somewhere in the “Cloud”, and for some this is not a comfortable proposition.

Having deployed and used this solution for companies, and with this sector of the IT business set to mushroom over the next years, any small to medium sized business should seriously look at how hosted Exchange can befit your business and your bottom line in effective communication. If it fits your business model then seriously way up the advantages it will bring, and if it’s not right for you now, well don’t dismiss it, times are changing and re-evaluate in 12 months.

Written by: Julian Flux – connect with Julian on LinkedIn

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