Should My Business Use Hosted Exchange or Manage Email In-House?

Joan PabonAug 18, 2017

If you’re the owner of a new or expanding business or have simply outgrown your current server, you may be debating whether a hosted Exchange mailing solution offers greater advantages than managing your email in-house. As both alternatives will entail a substantial investment, consider the following factors before committing to either one:

Pricing

The first thing to mull over tends to be a decisive factor for most businesses: pricing. The out-of-pocket cost of purchasing and housing a server on-site can be quite steep, especially considering all that can go awry. Hardware and software need to be bought, updated, and continuously maintained, licensees have to be renewed, equipment can fail, and you may find yourself tight on space or short on resources. For those looking to reduce maintenance costs, or those worried about the expense of hiring additional staff for tech support and management, Exchange hosting could be a convenient alternative. Hosted services are subscription-based, so you pay the same amount every month without having to worry about contingencies.

Uptime

One advantage of having an in-house server is not having to rely on an internet connection to access your data. However, having a server on premises would take up a considerable amount of space and make you more susceptible to data loss in the event of a natural disaster. A hosted service provider may not guarantee you 100% service availability in such an event, but most third-party hosts will offer failover solutions through IT continuity planning and provide an uptime guarantee, refunding you for any downtime due to server maintenance or unplanned occurrences. Another potential benefit of purchasing a subscription from a third-party host is being able to deploy your software in a matter of weeks, as opposed to waiting months to receive and set up your infrastructure in a secure location.

Storage & Scalability

As your business grows, so will your storage needs. Maintaining an internal mail server will require you to add servers or increase your current server capacity by upgrading hardware—processors, disks, memory, etc.— and continuously updating software. You could prepare for future growth by purchasing more servers than you need right away, yet that would translate into an additional expense that could divert funds away from other areas of your business. With hosted Exchange, you don’t have to worry about increasing system resources or managing your server, and you only pay for what you currently need while still having the ability to scale up or out as the needs of your business change.


Infrastructure & Expertise

Following the previous line of thought, another crucial factor when considering an internal mailing solution is IT infrastructure. The complexity of gathering and designing a sound infrastructure to deploy your software may require a level of expertise beyond your current abilities. Attaining high availability will likely involve setting up a cluster of servers for backup, improved load balancing, and failover. With regards to functionality and performance, hosted services prove to be a better deal. Why worry about servers, storage, and other security considerations when cloud computing allows you access to an optimized client-server network and personalized service for a flat monthly fee? A third-party provider can guarantee hardware and software redundancy and Disaster Recovery, as well as provide ongoing support from certified, experienced technicians.

Security

Some believe that storing data in a remote location rather than on-site means opening the doors to data loss and a host of cyber threats. Although there are certain risks involved in migrating to cloud computing, the majority of experts maintain the cloud is no less secure than traditional IT. While current anti-virus systems are based on reactive security, research and technological advancements are leading us towards the development of improved preventive security measures based on machine learning. Whether you go with a cloud-based or in-house solution, make sure your server environment is safe and well-configured. Those leaning towards hosted services should always access the cloud through a secure network and look for providers offering SLL encryption, anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware protection. The safety of your data will depend on the quality of services your cloud provider offers.

Generally speaking, on-premises mailing solutions are a viable option for larger companies with sufficient resources to hire a dedicated team of technicians equipped to maintain systems and provide ongoing support for its users. On the other hand, cloud computing alternatives could be much more cost-efficient and convenient for smaller, growing companies looking to invest in other areas of their business. Before deciding on either option, consider the long and short term needs of your business and carefully review what third-party hosts are offering. Remember to keep an open mind and consider alternatives such as the hybrid server model, which combines both in-house and cloud based solutions for a greater level of security.