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Is Exchange a realsitic option?

Hi All

I work for a group that presenly uses POP3 Mail.  There are various companies within the group.  Each company has a registered domain on the internet so email is easy to setup and manage, All companies are located in the same building.  Put simply, all users log in to the same  local domain (i.e. group.local)  for file sharing but their Outlook client uses POP3 and is confiured to coleect mail for their respective companies i.e. companyy1.com, compay2.com.  The total number of users across all 4 organisations is 30.  Some organisations have only 2 users, one 18 etc.
Now in order for to share contacts and calendars, we are thinking about going the exchange route.  We are considering a hosted option.  We have looked at MS365 but this is not an option at present as we would have to make a considerable investment in new hardware and Office 2010 licenses.
Can you advise on the best way forward?

Thanks in Advance



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freshfordian
Asked:
freshfordian
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1 Solution
 
Hendrik WieseCommented:
I always prefer an onsite Exchange 2010 server, where you can centrally manage all the system accounts. The Office upgrade should be part of your plan going forward but you don't have to do it all at ones.
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luconstaCommented:
If your "target" is "no hardware investment" then tha "hosted version" of Exchange it should work perfectly for you - especially if you have to increase or decrease rapidly the number of users - because you'll pay as you go - if you buy the licences you will have to stay wit them if your number of users are decreasing.

If you want to have your hardware and licences is still a good ideea but for company with only 2 users would be quite expensive for them. But if your "group" will use same internal domain for Active directory they could "share" the same Exchange server as the others - this will be something like a "joint-venture mini data center"... just that is "self hosted".

After you will put in balance all the costs, you may find out that in some cases is better with the hosted version... sometimes with the "self hosted" one... all it depends...
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RadweldCommented:
A single Exchange server located on premiss can do this, you would need to re target mx records in dns to your exchange server and you would isolate email address domains with multiple recipient policies.

This means your users can still have their unique email adders representing their company.

Many ISPs offer exchange hosted but you lose out on features you would need to ask the ISP if what you were requesting was possible with them.
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your help
If we hosted the exchange ourselves, would a separate DC be needed for each company within the group? OR 1 DC plus 1 dedicated Exchange Server to handle the mail for all Companies.   For some of the 2 user companies that would be quite expensive, I think
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Hendrik WieseCommented:
Only one DC would be fine although it would be a good idea to have at least 2 DC's on your primary site for redundancy.
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Just a query on Multiple Recipient Policies.  Are these easy to setup?  Should users be grouped on the DC?  
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rindiCommented:
For this I'd not take the m$ route, but rather install something like ClearOS or Zentyal, which both include a groupmail server. ClearOS is based on CentOS, and Zentyal on Ubuntu, both are OpenSource and free, but you can buy subscriptions for both which include extra features and support. Both are very easy to install, you don't need any Linux experience with either, and they use a Web Browser Interface for management.

I'd suggest you download the servers and install them in a testing environment, maybe using VMware Player or VirtualBox, then play around with them.

http://www.clearfoundation.com/
http://www.zentyal.com/

http://www.vmware.com/support/
https://www.virtualbox.org/
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
interesting! Rindi.  Will they integrate with Outlook (calendars, Contats mail etc)?
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rindiCommented:
I'm not using outlook so can't say for sure, but both should support imap, so you'd configure Outlook for imap and that should give you all possibilities. They also support webmail, which in many situations is better than using a mail client, since you can connect to your mail using a web browser and therefore any device.
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RadweldCommented:
1000000 Exchange experts verses how many for ClearOS or Zentyal, supportability should be your main concern. Free doesnt always mean better and usually they charge a premium to support their own product when it doesnt work.
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Good point Radweld.  I agree.  For this project I think exchange is best but I have a small community group with little or no finding available to them for whom rindi's proposal might be an option.
IBak tto the Multiple Recipient Policies above.  Any pointers?
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Forgive my mis-spells!
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RadweldCommented:
You can use your existing Active Directory, as long as it's at least Windows 2003 SP1 and operating at Windows 2003 functional levels. You use use AD attributes to set your company name and then you can use Exchange recipient policies so that a user with that specific company ad attribute would then get the email address username@yourdomain.com for example. You can have many recipient policies.

Exchange might be an expensive option but its designed exactly for this.
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rindiCommented:
1'000'000 "Exchange Experts" doesn't really tell anything about the quality of those so called "Experts". Many of them probably don't really know what they are talking about. If there is a problem you'd need to be lucky to get to the real Experts (even on EE not all participants will have valid solutions, although of course this site does have very good experts). Apart from that Exchange and AD is much more complex than many other solutions, and a lot of it is bloated and you are limited with restrictions on how to use it, for instance you need Outlook as client to get the most out of it, or if you use webmail IE, with other browsers you have restrictions in functionality.

Maybe you have less experts with Zentyal or ClearOS, but as I mentioned, you can buy subscriptions and then you have direct support from the companies, and such subscriptions are probably still less expensive than m$ products and the associated professional help. Also, as you get help directly from the companies you can expect that their experts, even if they are just a few, really know their product and will be able to give the best help possible. As everything is based on OpenSource products you have access to the source code, so it should be easy for programmers to get into the product if that is needed.
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RadweldCommented:
Rindi I seriously can't believe your saying an obscure open source product is a better fit than an Industry standard solution. You may be passionate about the product but you must leave your passion at the door when making recommendation's. Open source products are great for closed appliances however i would not want to replace my Email system with an obscure product that might prove troublesome. Of course if you are willing to give FreshfordIan your phone number when I would say go for the solution.

Any new solution is a steep mountain to climb, I wouldnt suggest you install any email service without serious thought, the benefits of Exchange is its a well developed, well supported product and it will do the job perfectly.
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
My responibility is to my customers whom I have worked with for almot 20years now and will essentially run with whatever solution I propose because they trust me.  Exchange has been around a long time,  It is a complex program and not without its problems.  This I know well from working with it over the years.  Now this in no way denegrates other solutions which are more economical or free or may,in fact, be better.  I do not envy the task that these developers have  in a Microsoft-dominated marketplace where penetration is so difficult!  However, on this project I must run with a tried and tested solution - "Warts and all" so to speak.  I will test the others however, in a less critcal environment.  I agree with Radweld.  There would certainly be a steep learning curve with any new solution but this would not stop me if I was confident with that solution - and confidence grows with experience of using the product.

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JRoyseCommented:
If the email is hosted - the web interface is almost replacing the user clients (like the full outlook client).

That being said, Exchange and Outlook are the gold standard of email for business.  I would recommend getting a price quote on hosted Exchange, and then hosted Zimbra: http://www.zimbra.com/partners/zimbra_hosting.html.  Compare the prices and features and maybe demo both and compare.
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Thanks Everyone
You have been a great help to me.  Just one more query.  Can accepted domains be setup on Windows SBS 2011?  
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RadweldCommented:
Yes exchange would be pretty useless without :-)
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
Thats good to know Radweld! I was unaware that SBS 2011 could do this.  Does that mean a client using outlook could send mail from any Accepted domain.  Compared to a Dedicated Exchange server are there any limitiations other than the max no of users?  
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freshfordianAuthor Commented:
superb answer
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