hosted exchange questions for a newbie

We have our first client that is going from POP to hosted exchange. This will be our first that doesn't have Exchange on SBS or POP. A flood of 4 users!

My understanding from standing on the sidelines on this topic is that there's 3 variations of hosted exchange?

Office 365 from Microsoft for $4 for just exchange? Or are there other tiers of Exchange only? They already have office on their desktops so no need to rent that and they don't need it on their iphones.

Office 365 from other vendors for a little more money, with better support? Is the interface the same as office 365 or do they have a different front end? Who offers that? GoDaddy I believe? Others?

Hosted exchange from Sherwood, Rackspace and others? At a higher cost than the 2 above if I am not mistaken?

As a naïf in the hosted exchange arena, does one stand out for you as better or worse than the rest? If it matters, I would like to be in the middle of the loop for billing where the vendor bills me and I bill the client. So at least I'll know the account is paid up when they call saying things aren't working. Does that eliminate Office 365?

They would like to import their existing mail, contacts and calendar from the PC for each user. Do these services allow that easily for 4 users or I recall people talking of migrationwhiz and other services?  They have used POP for years so there are no shared calendars or public folders that need to come over.  Can the native or outside services also pull info such as calendar and contact from the iphones without causing too many dupes?

Thank you in advance for any advice
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
If you want to be handling the billing then you can choose to sign up / pay for 365 and then bill the client accordingly.  The only drawback is that they can see what you are paying, so if you are increasing the cost to them, they might ask why.

We have moved a handful of customers to a 3rd party hosted Exchange solution and had problems moving every single customer so much so that we no longer use the 3rd party at all.

We now have around 900 mailboxes in Office 365 and all are happy and the process of moving to 365 is nice and simple.

Moving to 365 from POP will just be a case of importing the current .PST file (which has all emails, contacts, calendar items etc in) and then the whole lot will be transferred.

Mobile access comes as standard on 365 so they can either use it or not.

365 only offer the $4 basic account - not anything else that is just Exchange without any frills.  You can see all the offerings here:

The Basic $4 plan is now $5 I think.

Can the native or outside services also pull info such as calendar and contact from the iphones without causing too many dupes?
What is on the iPhones that isn't in Outlook?  If you have separate calendars that aren't in Outlook, you would need to export those calendars and import them via a computer (not the iPhone) or they won't transfer.

Support from 365 is pretty good in my experience.  Not sure about others, but I'm sure GoDaddy would also be good (from experience in calling them for support).

Hopefully covered all your questions - but if not, please fire more / remind me of ones I haven't touched on.



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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
thanks! Here's the link for exchange only /  $4.

That $5 plan in your link includes web based office?! I should at least try them out to know what they are like / how they compare to the full version?  Your thoughts on web vs. the real office?

Yeah, the contacts and calendar in the iphones are just stand alone / maybe syncing to icloud.  have to see if they want to merge the calendar / contacts on the PC and iphone.

Just my luck, because the client is a bit of a drive away, I don't want to have to make too many trips to them to configure / offload the old info from the phone, etc.  

I'd like to get more than typical  (or at least know it's available) support this first time because it's the first and don't want to make too many trips to them...  so don't think o365 is the way to go, at least this first time?

Then for outside firms doing exchange, who to choose? seems approver and intermedia get mentioned frequently.

I get stymied by indecision / too many choices.
Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
Might be an old link as I think they have done away with that option, although I can still sell that through my 365 Partner Portal!!

I've never used Web-Based office to be honest as I have the full-blown Office installed locally on my Mac.

What sort of support do you think you will need?  I know it's difficult because you haven't done this sort of thing before, but you can always find a local 365 Partner (or I'm happy to help you) that can hold your hand through the process and offer you assistance (we are very friendly but UK based!).

Moving to 365 has been nice and simple (for me) because I know Exchange very well.  The process of moving to 365 can be a pain depending on who the Domain is Registered with and if the Registrar is capable of adding the DNS records that are required (SRV Records / CNAME records / MX Records) but the process isn't painful with the right Registrar.

Would be good to know what the current contacts / calendar is synced via so that a way of getting that to 365 (or whoever you choose) can be determined.  Worst case the Exchange account can be added and the calendar items modified and saved in the Exchange Calendar not the current location.

I'm not familiar with any of the outside Exchange providers (being UK based).

Whoever you decide to go for - I'm sure you / your customer won't be disappointed with Office 365.

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