Years ago, many IT managers scoffed at the idea of cloud services. Today, many are headed in that direction. There’s some very valid reasons for that.
When you look at upgrading an older version of Exchange, many times you’ll probably consider upgrading the server at the same time. When we look at upgrading both of these items, it’s easy to get into the $3000-$5000 range when you include the time it takes to install and configure the new equipment, decommission the old equipment and migrate the data and let the dust settle. THAT is a big chunk of change! Not to mention, that there’s a fair piece of maintenance that goes along with maintaining such a server and in-house Exchange Server. Now, imagine if I said that for about $20 per user, you could have hosted Exchange email, SharePoint and 1TB of cloud storage. Sign me up, right? Well, that’s basically Office 365.
How many users you have makes all the difference into whether or not this make sense for you. With a small number of users, going with an in-house Exchange server is a bit of overkill, even in the days of Small organizations might benefit the most since it would take much longer to recover the capital expenditure of an in-house server with fewer people. Larger organizations, on the other hand, experience a different set of problems having to load share Exchange due to high volumes of users.
Another advantage of Office 365 and Exchange online is the web administration portal. It makes it pretty easy to administer a business class email server. Support from Microsoft is excellent. If you’re like me and having been calling Microsoft for years and getting crap support, let me assure you that times have changed.
When you first call Office 365 support, you’ll speak with someone who gets all of your information down and generates a case number. Then, they transfer you to a technician who asks for that case number. Word of advice – write that case number down so you’ll have it handy when you speak to the technician. Even though they email it to you, most times I am speaking to the technician before the email arrives and…. If having email problems… I might not be getting that email, right? There is no cost for support. It is included in the subscription price. It covers anything from mail client issues to administration or even creating custom transport rules. The technicians I’ve spoken to have always been able to accurately understand and correct the problem on the same call. Better still, I have always received a follow-up call to confirm the problem is fixed and it’s okay to close the ticket.
My clients have also noted a SIGNIFICANT reduction is the amount of SPAM coming through. For the SPAM that odes get through the Microsoft filters, you can also setup transport rules to create your own exclusion rules to foil SPAM attacks. SPAM is a major problem at many businesses and this alone is a great benefit.
In conclusion, I’ve had great experiences with Office 365. Is it 100%? No, but nothing is. For example, I had a client call me last night. “I can’t get into my email”, he said. I had him try the webmail version of Outlook. Still, no go. Just then my phone dinged (I have the Office 365 Administration app installed). I was able to tell the client that Microsoft is aware of the problem and they are looking into it. An hour later, I received another notification that service had been restored and I text my client to let him know. How cool is that?