Help Me Choose a Hosted Exchange Provider

I have a corporate client currently using IMAP mail hosted on Bluehost.com. He wants to move to hosted Exchange since he needs to have better mail & contact synching b/t his devices and he also wants to share calendars w/ his 3 key employees. Since Bluehost is an all-Linux provider, they don't offer hosted Exchange. The other thing is that he has about 35 sales guys that do not really need Exchange, so I was thinking of moving him to a hosting provider that offer a hybrid of Exchange as well as less expensive IMAP accounts.

Both Intermedia & Rackspace offer this hybrid option. I'm thinking of moving him to Rackspace. Although I have more experience with Intermedia, I did work with Rackspace for a former client a couple of years back and they have a good interface system and really good US-based tech support.

The other option is to move all their users over to Office365, even though it's really just 4 employees that need full Exchange functionality. At $4/user/month, that would cost him about $156/month. Rackspace charges $10/month for Exchange accounts and just $2/month for IMAP email. So it would be less expensive. But then there are extra fees for ActiveSync and for going over the basic amount of storage space, so in the end don't know if would be a significant price difference.

Although most of his employees are running Windows, the owner of the company is an all-Mac guy. He runs Mac Mail on his MacBook and Outlook 2011 on his office iMac.

Anyway, would appreciate other expert's feedback and suggestions in picking the most appropriate email hosting provider.

BTW, Google Apps is off the table b/c this client knows someone who had a very bad experience migrating to Google Apps. I myself have not been too impressed with Google Apps thus far. Seems to work very well if you strictly use the webmail interface, but once you introduce a mail client like Outlook or Mac Mail into the picture, all sorts of issues start to crop up.
anuneznycAsked:
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Vasil Michev (MVP)Commented:
I cannot give any opinion on other hosted Exchange providers, but from the comparison reviews I've read, Office 365 is the clear winner when it comes to price. Just recently they increased the mailbox size to 50GB. You can also use the kiosk plans, which cost 2$ per month and give you OWA/POP access only. So if you are basing this purely on cost, Office 365 is the way to go:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/business/compare-office-365-kiosk-plans-FX103178917.aspx
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
Thanks Vsilcho. I wasn't aware of the kiosk option. Although not sure if it's worth limiting users to a POP account in order to save $2/month.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
Hi Alejandro!

I hopped over a little bit late.

I'd recommend getting Exchange Online is $4/user/mo for the key guys. It's really the only game in town IMO considering all that Office 365 offers. Upgrading to another plan is easy and has no downtime - it's all administrative. Once you open the account you can mix/match plans and assign services to specific users.

For the rest of users you could go with the Kiosk plan which gives you the following:
2 GB of mailbox storage per user with Exchange Online
Web-based access to email, calendar, contacts, and the company directory through Outlook Web App, powered by Exchange Online
Premium anti-malware protection and anti-spam filtering
Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support for smart phones

Bottom-line is you get what you pay for.
Regarding
Both Intermedia & Rackspace offer this hybrid option.
If by "hybrid" you are referring to split domains so that you can run some users on Exchange and other on a Linux Mail Server, etc. then I'd highly recommend AGAINST that! I used to think the hybrid option meaning split domain was cool 6 years ago when they (Intermedia) first revealed it...but NEVER again. The main issue is point of failure - that technology relies on the cheapest mail server, typically, because IMAP/POP servers usually do not have secondary accounts. Therefore, what I have experienced is this cheap IMAP/POP server infrastructure (Bluehost included) becomes problematic due to blacklisting, or other transport layer issues that then compromise the Exchange part of the hosting. We had a number of situations where clients became cheap in terms of email and wanted to save some money. Then when it blew up in their faces the cost of downtime far outweighed the few dollars they'd saved. Plus then they blame you since you set this contraption up. I've worked with both Intermedia & Rackspace for almost 10 years as premium partners. Both are good companies and have their own pros/cons but I'd go direct of Office 365 as my recommendation. They are the best as overall infrastructure and Exchange setup...after all they created it - it's granted they set it up the best. I have seen significant performance increases from clients who has switched from Intermedia or other hosting providers to Office 365. Intermedia's East coast data center went down 2 weeks ago - really bad. No data lost but over a half a day of no mail flow.

Click on the "About Me" section to get into a 30 day trial: http:/M_5170946.html

I'd be happy to help with the migration outside of EE if you need assistance as well.

Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for reaching out to me!
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
Hi Diverseit. Thank you very much for your input.

No, I did not mean split domains. That does sound like a recipe for a lot of problems. What I meant is hybrid in terms of having some users running Exchange mail accounts while others would simply use cheaper IMAP accounts.

Thanks for the feedback. It's great to hear from someone who has used Intermedia & Rackspace as well as Office365.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
Yeah, no problem!

Does the hybrid model use different Email Servers, meaning are you using: a) the IMAP protocol to connect to the same Exchange Server or b) an Exchange Server with a different IMAP Server?

If you are talking about the latter, I know of no other way then to split the domain, unless of course, you use separate domains, but that would be silly.
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
That's a good question. And I don't know the answer. I guess we'd have to ask the engineers at Intermedia and Rackspace which of those 2 options they have implemented.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
Oh I'm sorry, I thought you were talking about a different solution outside of Intermedia & Rackspace. Both of those companies use the process I was talking about - "spitting the domain". I'd avoid it at all costs...no pun intended. You can go with either of those companies without using domain splitting but if you want to use another server for IMAP (in order to bring down costs by not paying for an Exchange mailbox) then it would be, most definitely, domain splitting, especially with Intermedia & Rackspace.

Hope that clears this up for you! Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
Anything else I can help you with?
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
Thanks Diverseit. I didn't realize that's how companies like Intermedia & Rackspace do that. So sounds like it's probably better to have the entire company be on just IMAP or just hosted Exchange, not a combination of the two.

What about if you go with Option A (the IMAP protocol to connect to the same Exchange Server) from your posting on 10/11/13? ID 39567614
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
The short answer is yes, use one or the other! In these types of situations where multiple servers are involved (not multiple Exchange servers) it's best to stick with one type.

If you must use this hybrid and understand the risks as specified above, I can provide you with setup instructions...just let me know.

In comment http:#a39567614, I was trying to understand what you were talking about here, and when I said, "...[running] the IMAP protocol to connect to the same Exchange Server..." I was referring to full mailboxes and splitting some of the users between accessing Exchange via IMAP and MAPI. Companies have odd reasons for doing things like this (using superannuated protocols - POP & IMAP). Personally, I'd never run an Exchange account using any protocol other than MAPI, unless, I was forced to by an application's deprecated way of doing things. Irrespectively, in order to run IMAP, or even POP for that matter, it would require a full mailbox.

Cheers!
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
Everything make sense?
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
Yes, I think so. I will assign points and close now. Thank you.
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anuneznycAuthor Commented:
Thank you.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
My pleasure. Glad I could help and thanks for the points!
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