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Any recommendations for hosted Exchange?

My company has about 300 users and we're looking to go from having Microsoft Exchange internally to having it hosted for us. We need someone who will be reliable and response if there are problems.

I'd like to ask if anyone can recommend a good hosting company, and just as importantly, warn about bad ones.
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donohoe1
Asked:
donohoe1
1 Solution
 
CorinTackNetwork EngineerCommented:
The company I work for recommends AppRiver  for hosted Exchange, though our clients are much smaller that you. Still, there's no reason that you couldn't use their services.

It's a good idea, especially with as many mailboxes as you have, to take a look at several services. I know a network admin who works at a college that is using Office 365 to host their Exchange stuff, and she says it works great. Given that they're using it for all their students and faculty, I'd say that's probably a good solution to look at also.
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Adam FarageEnterprise ArchCommented:
Office 365. Prices are very hard to beat and its hosted directly by MSFT.
They also a free migration service up until March 2015 I believe. The issue with that is its just the migration, no removing old Exchange servers or anything like that.
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Gareth GudgerCommented:
+1 Adam.

Office365. You can get on Exchange Online Plan 1 for $4 per user/month. That gives you a 50GB mailbox.

If you need an unlimited mailbox and extra items such as Litigation Hold or eDiscovery it is $8 per user/month.

I start many companies on the $4 plan.

Why go for the clones when you can have the original instead? Please Microsoft pushes all the new features to Office 365 well before any other Exchange hosted provider get them.
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
+1 for Adam. Office 365 all the way. Nothing is comparable in terms of the total offering vs. price. http://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-more-office-365-for-business-plans

Migrations are straightforward and pretty simple.

The only differences between Hosted Exchange and Office 365 are going to be what type of support or add-ons they bundle with it. In my experience (managing 3500 mailboxes) Hosted Exchange solutions are typically slower (transmission speeds (speed in sending/receiving mail)) and in some cases are not setup the best (or as good as MSFT does it). Here is my brief Pros/Cons list:

Hosted Exchange

Pros:
Bundled packages/deployments - If you want to do call to click with Lync or encryption, providers like Intermedia will bundle that in so it's arguably much easier to deploy right out of the gates.
Higher Up-time SLA- this is arguable because it doesn't focus on quality at all but some providers will actually provide better SLA's (at least in appearance) than Office 365. A good provider would produce an financially-backed SLA guarantying 5 9's (99.999% up-time or roughly 5.26 minutes of "unplanned" downtime per year). This speaks nothing to "planned" downtime.

Cons:
Pay premiums for service not necessarily quality - you will always pay more for Hosted providers for the simple fact that they will never be able to make a profit when they compete against their own source (Microsoft).
Sluggish provider networks - email delivery speeds are much slower
Manual (labor intensive) client config touches - Autodiscover is a bit hindered requiring manual intervention in most cases primarily because of the way in which Hosted Providers' clusters are setup (e.g. Intermedia).
Limited server control - No PowerShell access. You can't force GAL updates for example.
Slow upgrade paths - many Hosted Providers are still on Exchange 2010. So you are not getting the latest/greatest functionality. Even if they offer "newer" deployments they are typically very late in the game meaning they rest of the world has had access to the latest Exchange release 1year or more.
Full migration upgrade paths ONLY, in most cases, are full migrations. This becomes an annoying process since migrations themselves require so many touches. This issue only compounds with Autodiscover issues I previously mentioned.
Blacklist Issues - due to the volume of email done with public email servers there are numerous instanced where your communication is halted to gmail, yahoo, etc, recipients.
Multi-Tenant, Cross Tenant Impedance Mismatches - due to poor deployment architecture there is an inherent inability to share specific resources; each resource must be unique. Therefore if you should have the same external contact, in this scenario, the email path will be broken. Example, if you want email sent to support@YourDomain.com and support@OtherTenantDomain.com to both relay/forward to you@YourExternalTenantDomain.com mail would flow on whichever tenant email address was setup first and the later would permanently fail. Keep in mind I'm not talking about multiple domains but rather multiple tenant environments.


Office 365

Pros
Extremely affordable.
Fastest delivery time of email I've seen.
No touch client deployment - Autodiscover works as intended by its designer. Users can then deploy clients without additional steps or IT involvement because it only relies on UN/PW credentials.
Everything just works!
Server control - PowerShell access - allows you to control the server almost like it's an on-premise one.
Instant mature upgrade path - this is an entirely different approach to software delivery. When new features are introduced and passed their normal Q/A validations they are pushed and adopted immediately. There is no waiting for the latest version to come out in a year, etc. you simple have the latest version perpetually.
Upgrade paths are again instantaneous - there are no migrations needed, etc. no client upgrades needed either.
Migration from your on-premise is easy. If you have Exchange setup properly with Outlook Anywhere, etc. it just syncs your data in the back-end seamlessly. You can also
No Blacklisting issues - I can only chalk this one up to their deployment methodology.
Best Practice Deployment - Multi-tenant, cross tenant issues simply don't exist because there is far superior security contexting between tenants.

Cons
SLA - arguably MSFT offers a financially-backed SLA guaranteeing 3 9's, which is 8.76 hours per year of downtime. I have not seen this affect users primarily because of how they handle queue stacks and spooling queses.
Annual commitment - it is email so in theory and in the real world you shouldn't be migrating a lot so I get why they would want this. So if you commit to say 100 users and your company has a massive downsizing of 50 employees a few months later, they would charge you a one time fee for all 50 employees at 1 months rate. So you'd pay 50 * $4 = $200 as a one time break from your original agreement. This is a somewhat ridiculous example because there is a lot more to worry about if 50% your employees are let go...nonetheless it makes the point.

After everything weighed I say without a doubt go with Office 365.

I hope that helps!

Let me know if you have any other questions!
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donohoe1Author Commented:
If the price/value isn't a factor, is there a host who'd provide better or more reliable service than Microsoft with Office365?
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Blue Street TechLast KnightCommented:
In short, no, or at least I don't know of one.

When you talk about Hosted Exchange and Office 365 note that this is really an apples to oranges comparison. Office 365 is an all encompassing platform, whereas Hosted Exchange is primarily just that Exchange. That said and even if we are stripping Office 365 down to just it's Online Exchange offering...I don't know of a more stable Hosted provider of Exchange than Microsoft. Like I noted above there are companies like Intermedia or Sherweb (two of the biggest players in the game), that do guarantee a better up-time 99.999% opposed to MSFT of 99.9% but that is relative to how much "planned" downtime each company has and in my experience the hosted guys all together seem to deliver a slower product which requires more downtime in aggregate to deliver.
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