Microsoft Exchange is a program that you can use to create and manage a professional email system for your business. The email features of Exchange include: creating and managing mailboxes; creating and managing email addresses and aliases; creating and managing user groups; a global address book; setting permissions; setting data retention policies; spam filtering and antimalware; and email server management.
In addition to its email features, Exchange also has some business collaboration features, including scheduling/calendaring and task management.
When configured to be accessed via the Internet, Exchange can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client. You can access your Exchange-hosted mailbox from a lot of different email clients, though if you want to be able to make use of all of the program’s most advanced email and business collaboration features, you need to access your Exchange account from a version of Microsoft Outlook.
One way to implement Exchange is to install it on a physical server at one of your offices—a so-called onsite deployment. Another way to deploy Exchange, which is also the way that we would recommend to most businesses, is to sign up for hosted Exchange from a hosting company such as IronOrbit.
Here are some of the reasons that we recommend going with a hosted version of Exchange over an onsite version:
It costs less. Hosted Exchange is almost always more cost-efficient than an onsite deployment of Exchange. One reason for this is that hosted Exchange generally requires less hardware and personnel than onsite Exchange. With the hosted version, for example, you share a single physical server with at least one of the hosting company’s other clients, so you only have to pay for the portion of the server that you use; and one of the hosting company’s admins can effectively monitor and manage many different Exchange deployments at once (sometimes as many as hundreds or even thousands at a time), so you only need to pay a small percentage of that admin’s salary. Hosting companies also get bulk discounts on resources such as IT hardware (servers, storage devices, networking equipment, etc.), software, real estate, electrical power, and Internet bandwidth.
It doesn’t require as much work. Hosted Exchange doesn’t require you to purchase of any physical servers or install and set up the Exchange software. Also, if you sign up for managed hosted Exchange, then you also don’t have to worry about monitoring, securing, updating, backing up, or supporting your Exchange deployment, because the hosting provider will do these things for you.
It’s more secure and reliable. Hosted Exchange is generally more secure and reliable than onsite versions of Exchange because hosting companies can afford to implement the most advanced security measures (including 24x7x365 monitoring and incident response, enterprise-level firewalls, gateway antivirus, and IDS/IPS) and downtime and data loss prevention measures (including redundant hardware, Internet, and power, and geographically-separated data backups) and hire the most advanced personnel, which most small-and-medium-sized businesses cannot.
It’s more compliant. Hosted Exchange makes it easier to comply with regulations such as HIPAA and SOX, since it comes with many of the security and downtime and data loss prevention measures required by those regulations, such as firewalls, authentication systems, and antivirus software.