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bns-nycFlag for United States of America

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Best email continuity options today?

Hello,

After Storm Sandy hit, our buildings power was out for over a week and therefore shut down our onsite Exchange 07 server for a week. As you can imagine, this impacted business heavily as we were unable to receive any email during the week the buildings power was down.  My question is, what is the best available option in regards to Email continuity, so that if this was to ever happen again, we would still be able to get emails even though our onsite exchange server was offline or down? We are an SMB with only about 50+ users and our Exchange server 07 running on top of 03 Server. The way I look at it, there are 4 options currently:

1. Colocation:  Might be too expensive since need another server, plus the extra networking / bandwidth we would have to pay per month
2. MX backups:  Might look more into this, such as Symantec email continuity, postini, or MXsave.  I  haven't tried this solution before and want to gauge peoples experiences and opinions on this...
3.  Cloud based email:  Such as google apps or Office 365.  I've deployed a 365 solution before and it works fairly well.  I'm under the impression the Google apps email is pretty much the same; however might be cheaper / faster than 365.
4.  Cloud based virtual server:  Such as running our Exchange email system in Amazon AWS.  Again, something that I have not yet tried before and would like some peoples experiences and opinions on this.

I think those are the 4 main options we can consider and would really appreciate any info or insight you may have in regards to email continuity options for a small business of 50+ users.  As most SMB's we are on a budget, but am also looking for the best solutions as well. Thanks again in advance
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Thank you so much Matt for your very detailed response.  It has put a great perspective on some of the options I was looking at and I appreciate it greatly.

I am somewhat leaning towards your suggestion of colocation / hosted server solution; however I am still thinking that might be a little too pricey for us.  Colocation definitely because we would need to get another DC / Exchange server setup, plus need to pay for the site to site connections, etc which would be costly in the long run.  A virtual hosted solution such as Amazon AWS might be more feasible and easier to maintain / deploy; however could be costly as well.  I do like the idea of being able to manage and track our data accordingly; however the costs might be out of the company's budget. However, i think if I were to choose one of the 2, it would be with Amazon AWS and setup a virtual server with DC / Exchange there for mirroring.

I was actually looking more into the MX backup solution.  Your indicated that it does not allow for new email to be delivered.  However, I was reading the whitepaper from Symantec's cloud continuity solution and it states the following: "In the event that email cannot be delivered to your mail server, email traffic is re-routed by the service enabling users to send and receive new email and access historical email up to 90 days" (taken from http://www.symanteccloud.com/en/gb/services/data_protection_management/email_continuity_cloud.aspx).  This to me indicates that their solution does in fact allow for new emails as well as past emails to be delivered and accessible in case our onpremise server goes down.  Is this something you would recommend now, if it is indeed the case and are able to send/recieve emails in the case of an onpremise server outage?  

Thanks again
Ben
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thanks so much for the feedback and information.  It has helped me out tremendously and will look more into either google apps or the symantec email continuity solution.  I greatly appreciate the help.
Ben,

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner. With lots going on, it slipped my mind.

I was not aware of that Symantec offering. Most backup MX services offer a queued system which allows email to be queued for delivery to the original server, but don't typically allow users to receive that email or send from their usual addresses. In other words, it's not a typical mail server system, it's just a queue which forwards to your server when it comes back online.

If the Symantec offering does that, then it sounds like that might be a definite option to look at. I will add that to my records for future reference. It also means you don't have to ditch your internal infrastructure at all; everything works exactly as it is with no major organisation upheaval, but you just give staff the Symantec details in case a similar outage were to take place so that the business can continue from afar.

Thanks,

-Matt