SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

Blog Feed Post

A closer look at Hosted Exchange from Microsoft

emailisemail“Email is Email!”. This is what another Microsoft partner suggested to me, that I should say when presenting Office 365 to potential customers. He went on to say “A customer is not going to make the move to Office 365 for email, it will be for all of the other capabilities”. Well, he was absolutely correct. Using his sound advice, Forceworks has brought thousands of business users to the Office 365 platform. But I continued to have this nagging feeling, that even though users are coming on board at a rapid clip,  I was short-changing Exchange Online in the process.

While it is true, that for most small and medium-sized businesses, email is simply… well, email, but for some, the differences are stark and should be known. So I decided to attempt flesh out exactly what Hosted Exchange is bringing to the table. In other words, Email is not Email, not even close. No more than a Car is a Car or a House is a House.

Of course, this conversation starts with where you start, and those points are vastly different. For most of our customers, Hosted Exchange (or Exchange Online as it is known) comes in as part of their Office 365 subscription. It is just a piece of a package that may also include Lync Online, SharePoint Online, Office, Dynamics CRM Online, Project Pro Online, Office Web Apps, etc. While together these make an undeniably superior solution to whatever most clients may be using today, Exchange Online alone is worth the price.

Business users today have their mail served from a wide array of sources, all with varying degrees of capability, performance and security. POP Accounts (thankfully fading away), webmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, proprietary vendor email systems, on premise email systems, and increasingly over the last decade, Exchange hosted by a provider. Of these options On-Premise Exchange has long been considered by IT the best choice for those who could afford the infrastructure and administration. The second best IT choice was a Hosted Exchange provider, think Rackspace, Intermedia, Sherweb and hundreds of others. Suffice it to say, if you are not using Exchange, either on-premise or hosted, most IT professionals would agree that you are using something sub-par, on multiple levels. So really there are two camps, Exchange Users, and everybody else.

Microsoft, of course, “owns” Exchange. They wrote it and launched it in the early 90s, and have been building on it ever since. Microsoft offered this software initially to businesses for their own use and later also to other businesses who would  “build a business” by hosting the software on their own servers and offering Exchange Email service to business users. In April of 2009 Microsoft launched Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) as their first foray into offering Exchange as a hosted service themselves, but it was not until the re-brand and re-launch as Office 365 that users started to really take notice. And not just users, but the other hosted Exchange providers as well… and they were not too happy. Maybe if Microsoft had priced their service above the cost of the providers reselling their product things would have gone smoother, but in almost every case, Microsoft was cheaper.

MicrosoftDublinDataCentreAerialViewFrom a  provider perspective, Microsoft was, and is, directly competing with them, but without the provider’s cost burden of licensing the Exchange software. It is an interesting situation, paying your competitor to use their software to compete against them. It might have been surmountable, had Microsoft not gone and built all these state-of-the-art data centers. Microsoft did not build these data centers to cause problems for the Exchange Hosting providers, they built them for their entire cloud strategy which is much more encompassing than just email, but the result is the same. No other email provider, of any type, comes close to what Microsoft has behind Exchange Online. For email alone, they could never justify the cost. From a user perspective, they can get Exchange from the owner of the software, running on superior data centers for a lower cost… Darwinian indeed.

So let’s get back to on-premise exchange otherwise known as Exchange Server. By the way, Exchange Server is the same software that the third-party hosting companies have. Microsoft’s Exchange Online, while also running Exchange Server 2013 has quite a few capabilities and features that are not available at all, or at least delayed for the on-premise version, and therefore the hosting provider’s versions. So if you are an IT Manager with on-premise Exchange Server, you are probably smiling that your organization was not involved in the hosting issues described above.

While the battle rages on, you sit comfortably on the sideline, literally Master of your Domain. We hear it all the time, “We have on-premise Exchange, it has all we need and never goes down”. On the first part “has all we need” you are either oblivious or in denial, and on the second part “never goes down” you are lying. I have written at length about IT’s fears of loss of control, or worse loss of a job. The more I talk about the breadth of solutions that Microsoft has in their cloud stack, the greater this fear becomes. So let’s forget about all that and just talk Email.

The typical midsized business with an actual IT department usually has a rack of servers, either literally on the premises or at a private data center or both. Among these servers, many workloads are taking place beyond just email: file shares, accounting software, ERP, anti-virus, too many really to list. But in looking at the email function in particular, it is impossible for IT to be heroes. Email is assumed, like air conditioning or electricity, nobody even thinks about it unless it goes down. When this happens, IT bubbles up from being out of the users’ minds, to a bunch of freaking idiots. Your heroic efforts to restore service are neither appreciated, or even thought about two seconds later.

From an IT perspective, Email presents nothing but risk to your department and its internal reputation. And for what? The perception of control? The impression that you have a better ability to keep it up than Microsoft? I would compare Microsoft’s uptime record for Exchange Online, to any IT department in any midsized business. So even if there were no other reasons, this alone should be reason enough to get out from under email, but there are other reasons.

spamcanLet’s take a quick look at just one important feature, anti-spam. I am going to make the assumption that you not only have Exchange Server, but you also have Forefront protection, which I know many of you do not. Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is the next version of Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). EOP anti-spam protection features are included in Exchange Online. The following are benefits of using Exchange anti-spam protection in the cloud (Microsoft Exchange Online or Microsoft Exchange Online Protection) as opposed to Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, which has most of the same built-in anti-spam capabilities as Microsoft Exchange Server 2010:

  • More control and easier configuration   Administrators can use the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) web-based management console in order to customize spam filtering settings so that they best meet the needs of your organization. There is no anti-spam user interface in Exchange Server 2013.
  • Stronger connection filtering   In Exchange 2013, connection filtering IP Allow lists and IP Block lists are available only if you install an Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2007 Edge Transport server in your perimeter network. In the cloud, you can choose to skip spam filtering on email messages sent from trusted senders (gathered from various third-party sources), ensuring that these messages are not mistakenly marked as spam. Also, the hosted filtering service uses Microsoft’s own block lists and lists aggregated from vendors to provide greater IP-level filtering.
  • Stronger content filtering   You can easily configure your content filter policy to:
    • Filter messages written in specific languages.
    • Filter messages sent from specific countries or regions.
    • Mark bulk email messages (such as advertisements and marketing emails) as spam.
    • Search for attributes in a message and act upon the message if it matches a specific advanced spam option attribute. If you are concerned about phishing, some of these options offer a combination of Sender ID and SPF technologies to authenticate and verify that messages are not spoofed.

    In addition to the above content filter options that you can configure in the EAC, the hosted filtering service uses additional URL lists to block suspicious messages that contain specific URLs within their message body.

  • Quicker updates   Spam updates are propagated more quickly across the network. In Exchange Server 2013 updates occur two times per month, whereas the service is updated multiple times per hour.
  • Outbound filtering   Outbound spam filtering is always enabled if you use the hosted service for sending outbound email, thereby protecting organizations using the service and their intended recipients.

This is only one aspect of email, anti-spam, but there are many others. On our Exchange Online product page we have a complete breakdown of the differences between Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Online. Note that the differences are even more stark if you are on an earlier version of Exchange Server, but I am not showing all of those.

When is the best time to make a move?

This is a huge question with different answers depending on your situation. It also has a great deal to do with how much value you place on different feature and capability gains, which also varies from business to business. There is also a migration cost to consider. If you are currently on one of the other hosted Exchange providers it is fairly easy to do a cost/benefit analysis and make a decision. The challenge sometimes is getting past the misinformation that their desperate sales staff will spew as they try to keep yet another client from leaving their over-priced solution.

If you have an on-premise Exchange Server the trigger points are much different. We often find companies making the move when either hardware or software upgrades are required in order to avoid that expense. This is a very pragmatic approach that completely discounts the additional value received, but the C-Suite has usually looked at IT as an expense to be managed rather than a value creator.  Sometimes a move is triggered by a failure of something that creates downtime, or spam issues. This is not the best time as undue pressure may be placed upon IT, but the fact is that many migrations are reactive rather than proactive.

I encourage you to look into Exchange Online… thoroughly and objectively, then contact us to discuss your situation, we are here to help.

Source: A closer look at Hosted Exchange from Microsoft
Forceworks

Read the original blog entry...

Latest Stories
Moroccanoil®, the global leader in oil-infused beauty, is thrilled to announce the NEW Moroccanoil Color Depositing Masks, a collection of dual-benefit hair masks that deposit pure pigments while providing the treatment benefits of a deep conditioning mask. The collection consists of seven curated shades for commitment-free, beautifully-colored hair that looks and feels healthy.
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
We all love the many benefits of natural plant oils, used as a deap treatment before shampooing, at home or at the beach, but is there an all-in-one solution for everyday intensive nutrition and modern styling?I am passionate about the benefits of natural extracts with tried-and-tested results, which I have used to develop my own brand (lemon for its acid ph, wheat germ for its fortifying action…). I wanted a product which combined caring and styling effects, and which could be used after shampo...
Steaz, the nation's top-selling organic and fair trade green-tea-based beverage company, announces its 2017 "Mind. Body. Soul." tour, which will bring authentic experiences inspired by the brand's signature Mind. Body. Soul. tagline to life across the country. The tour will inform, educate, inspire and entertain through events, digital activations and partner-curated experiences developed to support the three pillars of complete health and wellness.
The precious oil is extracted from the seeds of prickly pear cactus plant. After taking out the seeds from the fruits, they are adequately dried and then cold pressed to obtain the oil. Indeed, the prickly seed oil is quite expensive. Well, that is understandable when you consider the fact that the seeds are really tiny and each seed contain only about 5% of oil in it at most, plus the seeds are usually handpicked from the fruits. This means it will take tons of these seeds to produce just one b...
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
ScaleMP is presenting at CloudEXPO 2019, held June 24-26 in Santa Clara, and we’d love to see you there. At the conference, we’ll demonstrate how ScaleMP is solving one of the most vexing challenges for cloud — memory cost and limit of scale — and how our innovative vSMP MemoryONE solution provides affordable larger server memory for the private and public cloud. Please visit us at Booth No. 519 to connect with our experts and learn more about vSMP MemoryONE and how it is already serving some of...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
Platform9, the leader in SaaS-managed hybrid cloud, has announced it will present five sessions at four upcoming industry conferences in June: BCS in London, DevOpsCon in Berlin, HPE Discover and Cloud Computing Expo 2019.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
When you're operating multiple services in production, building out forensics tools such as monitoring and observability becomes essential. Unfortunately, it is a real challenge balancing priorities between building new features and tools to help pinpoint root causes. Linkerd provides many of the tools you need to tame the chaos of operating microservices in a cloud native world. Because Linkerd is a transparent proxy that runs alongside your application, there are no code changes required. I...