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  • What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

    Hello all,

    I'm seriously looking into getting a hosted Exchange solution for the small organization that I'm currently working for. POP3 just isn't cutting it anymore (not that it was ever that sharp to begin with). I'm also interested in a provider that offers other hosted solutions as well. E.g. Office Communication Server 2007 (that looks so cool!) and SharePoint. I have two main topics that I would enjoy hearing from you all about:

    1). Are there any hosted Exchange providers that you have dealt with and would recommend? I'm currently enticed by www.Intermedia.net. They offer Exchange, OCS, SharePoint, BlackBerry, ActiveSync and a few others. On top of that, their pricing seems decent.

    2). What are the pitfalls and challenges associated with hosted Exchange? How can I integrate my Active Directory Domain with hosted exchange? Are their any "gotchas" that I should be on the lookout for in the SLA or when talking with the sales rep (aside from the usual sales person "gotchas") or anything else for that matter?

    Personally, I'd like to host just about all of our core services offsite and save the onsite space and servers for those things that simply can't be hosted or are more in-line with what the business actually does. FYI, at the moment we don't have to worry about any governmental oversights or record retention. However, being a non-profit in America I think PCI compliance will be required in the next few years. Are there any other vital bits of information that I left out?

    JoeQwerty: I see from your MVM profile that you have a hosted Exchange solution for your 1,000+ user workplace. I'm sure you have some gold nuggets of wisdom to offer.
    Wesley David
    LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
    -------------------------------
    Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
    Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
    Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
    Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

  • #2
    Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

    How many users is this setup required for?
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

      Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
      How many users is this setup required for?
      ::smacks forehead:: Forgot that one. I'm only needing about 20 mailboxes with slow growth over the next few years. As for any other hosted application (SharePoint, OCS, etc.) let's say 10.
      Wesley David
      LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
      -------------------------------
      Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
      Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
      Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
      Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

        There is no integration with your internal AD. Therefore if you deploy it then users have to maintain two sets of usernames and passwords.

        Hosted Exchange is about to have a massive shake up. Microsoft will be entering the market any time now and consolidation is starting to take place. There are lots of providers, but I suspect that lots of them are actually white labelling the major providers.

        I cannot say anything about specific providers, as I haven't used any of them (I want to sell you your own Exchange server, with support!). It very much seems like it is reaching the point of paying your money and taking a choice. Look for providers with the size of the mailboxes you need and the features that are required.

        If you google around you will find lots of articles on questions to ask hosted Exchange providers written by those involved. Find them and then see if your selected provider can answer them.

        Simon.
        --
        Simon Butler
        Exchange MVP

        Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
        More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
        Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
        In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

        Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

          Originally posted by Sembee View Post
          There is no integration with your internal AD. Therefore if you deploy it then users have to maintain two sets of usernames and passwords.
          That's what I suspected.


          Originally posted by Sembee View Post
          (I want to sell you your own Exchange server, with support!).
          At the moment I can afford an Exchange server or support. Not both, unfortunately. I'm not thrilled about bringing an email server onsite considering the liability and maintenance time that will be attached to it. I'm also not impressed by our ISP's network connection at the building or the energy company's quality of service but I can't afford to do anything about either one of those problems. I'm enticed by the simplicity of Exchange hosting. Not that I wouldn't immensely enjoy having someone of your calibre and charm working as my support team...
          Wesley David
          LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
          -------------------------------
          Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
          Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
          Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
          Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

            Originally posted by Sembee View Post
            T

            Hosted Exchange is about to have a massive shake up. Microsoft will be entering the market any time now and consolidation is starting to take place. There are lots of providers, but I suspect that lots of them are actually white labelling the major providers.
            I think they already have - http://www.microsoft.com/online/products.mspx
            and - http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/08...xchange-deals/

            If I am not wrong Microsoft was offering these services for free a while back.

            Ta
            Caesar's cipher - 3

            ZKHQ BRX HYHQWXDOOB GHFLSKHU WKLV BRX ZLOO UHDOLVH LW ZDV D ZDVWH RI WLPH!

            SFX JNRS FC U6 MNGR

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

              Originally posted by Nonapeptide View Post

              At the moment I can afford an Exchange server or support. Not both, unfortunately. I'm not thrilled about bringing an email server onsite considering the liability and maintenance time that will be attached to it. I'm also not impressed by our ISP's network connection at the building or the energy company's quality of service but I can't afford to do anything about either one of those problems. I'm enticed by the simplicity of Exchange hosting. Not that I wouldn't immensely enjoy having someone of your calibre and charm working as my support team...
              I have servers that I have deployed and don't have to go near them. Exchange, if built correctly will just sit there and get on with it.
              With the number of users that you have stated I would be looking at SBS 2008 to host the email. Put the system on decent hardware, plenty of RAM and it will just sit there and get on with it.

              You are right to distrust your ISP. I have seen what some ISPs use for email, and I wouldn't trust them with email ever again.

              Simon.
              --
              Simon Butler
              Exchange MVP

              Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
              More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
              Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
              In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

              Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

                Originally posted by Sembee View Post
                I have servers that I have deployed and don't have to go near them. Exchange, if built correctly will just sit there and get on with it. With the number of users that you have stated I would be looking at SBS 2008 to host the email. Put the system on decent hardware, plenty of RAM and it will just sit there and get on with it.
                SBS 2008 is exactly what I've been looking into. For about $1,300USD I can pick up a 64-bit HP tower server with 4GB of RAM and SBS 08 Standard (I have the benefit of non-profit pricing for this place). That seems like decent enough hardware. It's just the next point that bothers me...


                Originally posted by Sembee View Post
                You are right to distrust your ISP. I have seen what some ISPs use for email, and I wouldn't trust them with email ever again.
                Actually, my distrust of the ISP wasn't their email system, but rather the reliability of their connection. In fact, I have yet to discover if they block SMTP traffic. It's a bit of an involved story, but the physical location of the workplace is somewhat remote and doesn't have the most reliable infrastructure yet. The network connection is really just a consumer grade DSL line (the cheapest business level network connection was a T1 at about $400... which is a good price but about $350 more than budgeted for).

                Our email is currently done through our web host... which is rather frightening. If you say that SBS 08 can be a "set it and forget it" implementation (if properly done, of course) then I suppose I'll reconsider running it in-house.

                Do I owe you a consulting fee for this?
                Wesley David
                LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                -------------------------------
                Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: What are your experiences with hosted Exchange?

                  The noises coming out of the SBS community is that while you can do it with 4gb, 8gb is really the minimum. Certainly that is what I am putting in my specifications for the servers for new deployments. I have three on the shelf waiting for release.

                  Knowing how the US ISP market is working, it would not surprise me if the SMTP port is being blocked. That seems to be a common ploy. They then ask you to move to a "business" connection which is identical to the connection you had before in everything but the price.
                  The ironic thing is that they don't block OUTBOUND port 25 which would be ideal to block spam.

                  If the connection is unreliable then I would be looking to put the server in to a data centre. Put a second server in running terminal services and the staff can work from anywhere with an internet connection, even dial up. If you can't afford another server hardware but can get the not for profit licenses then rent a server in the same data center.

                  Simon.
                  --
                  Simon Butler
                  Exchange MVP

                  Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
                  More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
                  Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
                  In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

                  Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

                  Comment

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