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Move to Exchange or Gmail for Business?

Posted on 2011-09-20
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Our firm is considering whether to transfer our email to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 or to Google's Gmail for Business, and would appreciate experts' comments on the pros and cons of each.

Users connect to the mail server mainly from Outlook 2007/2010, smartphones or webmail.

We are aware that having an Exchange server will provide more direct control over access and security, but would appreciate advice on all of the advantages and disadvantages to each option.

The main difference in cost is in the initial purchase of hardware (new server and software licences).  The ongoing costs are similar (external IT support for Exchange vs. per-mailbox fee for Google, and extra bandwidth for Google to cover internal emails), as are the expected migration costs from our existing Scalix mail server (around 30 users, but many with BIG mailboxes).

The final purchase decision will be based on the question: does the difference in functionality, security and ease of use (for end users and the IT administrator) for Exchange justify an extra $5,000-$6,000 upfront cost?  Or is it not worth it? Or is Gmail better anyway?
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Question by:Let's Go
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Expert Comment

by:ErezMor
ID: 36572136
1st, you DONT need to buy any hardware and go through (truly agonizing) proccess of installing and configuring exchange inhouse. there are solutions today that provide exchange as an online service (the actual servers are the provider's, so you dont need any hardware, AND no configuration) - you ask the provider for mailboxes, sizes, and other properties, you dont need an inhouse specialist - it is all done for you
it's quite cheap (and perfectly scalabe) and transparent in use (our firm's users have all outlook on their pcs and it is used on all our iphones as well) AND it supports web-outlook as well

cant help you comparing it all to google services, cause i never used it.

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Assisted Solution

by:Brando Peter
Brando Peter earned 400 total points
ID: 36572729
Moving forward, your email needs will get more complex - especially with the importance of business compliance and auditing.  Exchange is well known to be enterprise oriented but the same cannot be said about Gmail - and you should consider what they are offering in the way of business compliance, archiving and auditing.  Exchange on the other hand has all these features built-in.  

Do also consider going for Office365 - which gives you all the functionality of Exchange 2010 (and 25GB user mailboxes) - including Office Web Apps, Lync Online and Sharepoint Online, managed by Microsoft directly.  

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Accepted Solution

by:
Allen Falcon earned 1600 total points
ID: 36572982
A couple of thoughts.

Don't assume you need more bandwidth.  Bandwidth for internal messaging is often offset by reduction in use due to spam traffic, remote access, and mobile connectivity, which no longer require traffic to/from on-premise systems.

With Google Apps for Business (GAFB), you can keep Outlook as a client and have a native MAPI experience, or move to the web interface with much more in the way of integrated features.

Migration costs to GAFB should not depend on mailbox size and should run you less than $2K all included.

With GAFB, you are getting more than email.  Most companies we work with find the document collaboration, file services, sites, secure IM, and free voice/video conferencing to be great added value.

GAFB includes Postini spam/virus protection (so you don't need to pay for spam/virus appliances or services separately as with Exchange).  You can add compliant archive & discovery and/or message encryption.  Policy-based TLS encryption is included.

GAFB is fully redundant, you don't need (but may want) to further invest in backup capabilities as you will need with an in-house Exchange server.

Google adds features and capabilities to GAFB constantly... small updated every 3 weeks.  Exchange gets new features every 6 months in the form of service packs and major upgrades every 3 to 4 years.

Office365 has been out of Beta for 10 weeks or so and has had multiple outages for more than 9 hours of down-time during US business hours.  GAFB is running at 99.984% uptime.

According to MSFT, Office365 will not be upgraded off of Exchange 2010 until 2013; Google is constantly improving GAFB.

Exchange requires monthly administration time for OS and Exchange updates and patches.  In the last 2 years, 60% of MSFT "tuesday" releases have been followed within 96 hours by emergency updates, patches, or re-releases requiring additional administration time.

If you look at the total cost of Exchange, including hardware, software, CALs, spam/virus protection, backup/restore, and, if needed, archiving.  GAFB will be less expensive over time.

With a Scalix server, we would probably migrate you to GAFB using a desktop migration tool.  With about 30 users, it is about a week from contract to completion.  The migrations themselves would span a few days with no end user disruption.

Just sayin ...
Allen





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Author Comment

by:Let's Go
ID: 36596458
Thanks.

Infin and allenfalcon both mention the importance of archive, auditing, discovery services (which would automatically include backups).

Do you have any comments on the comparative ease-of-use/functionality of these in Exchange compared to Gmail, either using the Microsoft/Google service or a third party option?
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Author Closing Comment

by:Let's Go
ID: 37483658
No responses were received to my request for clarification, which I will post as a separate question
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