Making decision to host exchange with Microsoft services

Hello everyone,
Management wants me to research the pros and cons of having exchange hosted with MS.  I have never worked in hosted environment so i really do not know the cons.  I have heard that there are problems integrating apps that require an in house server.  I am just trying to forsee what possible issues we may run into down the line.

Our environment is consists of about 200 users using Active Directory (multi site) and is the typical MS shop with sharepoint, project, office 2007, ISA, SQL ect.  My biggest concern is sharepoint.

Any input on this would be great.


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itgrooveConnect With a Mentor Commented:
re: in-house vs hosted, here are a few links that should help.
Re: SharePoint, in house or hosted should really have no impact for you.  SharePoint doesn't use Exchange, it just wants an SMTP server (locally for inbound email enabled lists and libraries, and externally usually, for delivering emails, such as alerts, etc.).  You may have some challenges if you plan on using web parts that expose someone's inbox on a dashboard, but I find those are usually pretty frustrating, even in house.
With the Microsoft Online Services, you can link your Active Directory to theirs so there is account synchronization, so you could even just move some of your Email accounts to them (as a trial) or just knowing that you could have a hybrid for the short term or long term.
Is virtualization an option for you? ESXi or Server 2008 HyperV?
Not sure if your question is re the hosted facility, a hosted service provider, or if you are going to set it up yourself?

I almost always recommend Exchange on a stand-alone server instance (physical usually, but virtual if no choice). Also, see this thread...
Problems using Powershell and Active Directory?

Managing Active Directory does not always have to be complicated.  If you are spending more time trying instead of doing, then it's time to look at something else. For nearly 20 years, AD admins around the world have used one tool for day-to-day AD management: Hyena. Discover why

Also, the version of Exchange and Sharepoint is not specified in this question, but here's a similar thread concerning Exchange + Sharepoint:
Keith AlabasterEnterprise ArchitectCommented:

These are the MS online guides. Too close to Christmas for me to be typing loads today.
jdfloryAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone,

What I am looking for is what will my limitations be if we outsource with MS?  When i say outsource or hosted i mean we will basically export all mailboxed to their exchange services on their domain.

Currently we have exchange inhouse so we need to know what the limitations would be.  I am just trying to foresee what will not be possible down the road if we move our email environment to their services.

Does anyone have experience with MS hosted services?

Keith AlabasterConnect With a Mentor Enterprise ArchitectCommented:
Did you read the MS Implementation, Planning and Deployment guides for using the on-line (cloud) Exchange and Sharepoint environments in the links I gave you? If you have not, then you should. If you are after a full cost/benefit anlysis then hire a consultant and do it properly :)

I have moved two of my clients to this environment - at their request - but I would not move my own organisation.

To be frank, I have not come across any limitations. To put it in simple terms, a apart from a power outage or a hardware fault, the last time I went into the server room to sit at the Exchange server console was quite sometime ago. We always terminal service to all boxes and remotely administrate them so the concept is exactly the same - the only difference is that the five Exchange boxes are no longer physically located in their server rooms but elsewhere.

The constraint - rather than limitation - has been the cost. The client's view was that reducing power and cooling costs, the reduction in admin staff by two resources, freeing up area in his datacentre etc balanced it all out. Not a view I agreed with but it is their money, not mine. they have not had a single outage since migration and are pleased with the results.

One client who decided against this approach based their decision on the fact that they held sensitive data and could not store this off-site, regardless of whom the provider of the service was.

jdfloryAuthor Commented:
I have read the guide and even spoken with pre sales engineers at MS and they say it can do everything but when i get specific they start back stepping and admit that it does have some limitations.  Here are few that i have found so far.

*Setting permission on a mailbox must be done from outlook not their admin console
*No public folder support
*No power shell or scripting support
*Separate domains (you can import users but you still have to set passwords and setup each account)  *Domain federation not supported yet  (two logins)
*Query based groups not supported
*no SMTP relay
*we have a signature application that creates signatures for OWA which will not work
*no email forwarding (i have not confirmed this but found it on a forum)
*Web parts not supported in sharepoint using exchange
*migration back to inhouse
jdfloryAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for your input.

We decided on keeping exchange in house for now.  I will split the points up
jdfloryAuthor Commented:
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