If you’ve been hosting your own email servers on-premises for some time and plan to migrate to the cloud, your needs will be different compared to a company that is building its IT services from scratch. Depending on the industry regulations you have to follow, you might be faced with more constraints (e.g., email retention policies, encryption policies). And, depending on your business organization, you’ll have other issues to deal with (office branches, complex communication processes, etc.). To help you decide, we compare Office 365 vs. Hosted Exchange. Two great options for your business email hosting.
For over two decades now, Exchange Server has evolved to be the most reliable and efficient business email solution, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes. With each new version, Microsoft has brought more topical functionalities, faded others, and in general, always enhanced the platform stability. Moreover, Exchange Server has followed the trend of the public cloud, so many providers have been able to deliver it in a Software-as-a-Service model. This has allowed multiple businesses to move their email service to a provider’s multi-tenant infrastructure and reduce their IT overhead. The cloud offers a reduced cost with a flat monthly fee.
Why are we talking about Exchange Server? Because Office 365 and Hosted Exchange are two cloud offers based on that platform. Your email system will potentially run on the same platforms whether you choose one or the other!
While Exchange Server runs on the server side, you have different choices for the email client. Microsoft Outlook is the email client that was made to properly integrate all functionalities provided on the server side. It installs on workstations, tablets and smartphones, and is available for either iOS, Mac OS or Windows OS.When a new Exchange Server version is released, it is usually followed by the Outlook PC version of the same build. Any new version of Outlook will be compatible with at least the two previous Exchange versions. This means, for example, that Outlook 2016, released for Exchange 2016, is compatible with Exchange 2010 and 2013
With Hosted Exchange, you choose the version to run on. Providers usually have different Exchange environments to choose from. Security updates and service packs for one environment are tested before any deployment, to avoid outages and other issues. You can stay as long as you want on the environment that gives you the functionalities you prefer. However, at one point the platform will reach its end-of-life deadline and the provider will be forced to phase it out. You should know that the older the version, the higher the costs are to support it.
First of all, your team will have a lot to play with. Email is not Office 365’s core service. Exchange Online is only one of the services offered. Basically, Office 365 is a set of products that include productivity and collaboration applications like the popular Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, etc.), Business Intelligence tools (Power BI with Excel), personal and shared storage for files (OneDrive or SharePoint libraries), plus email (50GB per mailbox) and a choice of other interesting services (Project Server, Yammer, Skype for Business, Sway, Teams etc.). Office 365 comes with several plans, so you can select the one with the options that you like the most.
With Office 365, you’re always running the latest versions of all software, as soon as they’re released by Microsoft. This way, you get all the new features and enhancements instantly, including any new Exchange Server release. Application upgrades, service packs and security updates are automatically pushed to your users’ devices, whether they are PCs, MACs, tablets or smartphones. You may choose to delay the installation on PCs joined to an Active Directory domain, but this would be a personal choice, not Microsoft’s. They made Office 365 so you always get the latest versions of any service.
Of course the upgrades are free. There are no charges from Microsoft other than your regular monthly fees!
Your decision to choose one offer over the other really depends on your corporate culture and business needs. With Hosted Exchange, you get stability: you control the changes and the options you want and you get help with email migration. With Office 365, you can be innovative with newly released app features are delivered to you automatically including new email platforms and you can constantly refresh your business processes and tools. And for each offer, you can combine different plans so you get exactly what you need for every user. Ask your provider for advice!
Want to know more about Office 365? Contact our consultant.