Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Mihai Corbuleac, Pat Romanski, David Bermingham

Blog Feed Post

A closer look at Hosted Exchange from Microsoft

emailisemail“Email is Email!”. This is what another Microsoft partner suggested to me, that I should say when presenting Office 365 to potential customers. He went on to say “A customer is not going to make the move to Office 365 for email, it will be for all of the other capabilities”. Well, he was absolutely correct. Using his sound advice, Forceworks has brought thousands of business users to the Office 365 platform. But I continued to have this nagging feeling, that even though users are coming on board at a rapid clip,  I was short-changing Exchange Online in the process.

While it is true, that for most small and medium-sized businesses, email is simply… well, email, but for some, the differences are stark and should be known. So I decided to attempt flesh out exactly what Hosted Exchange is bringing to the table. In other words, Email is not Email, not even close. No more than a Car is a Car or a House is a House.

Of course, this conversation starts with where you start, and those points are vastly different. For most of our customers, Hosted Exchange (or Exchange Online as it is known) comes in as part of their Office 365 subscription. It is just a piece of a package that may also include Lync Online, SharePoint Online, Office, Dynamics CRM Online, Project Pro Online, Office Web Apps, etc. While together these make an undeniably superior solution to whatever most clients may be using today, Exchange Online alone is worth the price.

Business users today have their mail served from a wide array of sources, all with varying degrees of capability, performance and security. POP Accounts (thankfully fading away), webmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, proprietary vendor email systems, on premise email systems, and increasingly over the last decade, Exchange hosted by a provider. Of these options On-Premise Exchange has long been considered by IT the best choice for those who could afford the infrastructure and administration. The second best IT choice was a Hosted Exchange provider, think Rackspace, Intermedia, Sherweb and hundreds of others. Suffice it to say, if you are not using Exchange, either on-premise or hosted, most IT professionals would agree that you are using something sub-par, on multiple levels. So really there are two camps, Exchange Users, and everybody else.

Microsoft, of course, “owns” Exchange. They wrote it and launched it in the early 90s, and have been building on it ever since. Microsoft offered this software initially to businesses for their own use and later also to other businesses who would  “build a business” by hosting the software on their own servers and offering Exchange Email service to business users. In April of 2009 Microsoft launched Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) as their first foray into offering Exchange as a hosted service themselves, but it was not until the re-brand and re-launch as Office 365 that users started to really take notice. And not just users, but the other hosted Exchange providers as well… and they were not too happy. Maybe if Microsoft had priced their service above the cost of the providers reselling their product things would have gone smoother, but in almost every case, Microsoft was cheaper.

MicrosoftDublinDataCentreAerialViewFrom a  provider perspective, Microsoft was, and is, directly competing with them, but without the provider’s cost burden of licensing the Exchange software. It is an interesting situation, paying your competitor to use their software to compete against them. It might have been surmountable, had Microsoft not gone and built all these state-of-the-art data centers. Microsoft did not build these data centers to cause problems for the Exchange Hosting providers, they built them for their entire cloud strategy which is much more encompassing than just email, but the result is the same. No other email provider, of any type, comes close to what Microsoft has behind Exchange Online. For email alone, they could never justify the cost. From a user perspective, they can get Exchange from the owner of the software, running on superior data centers for a lower cost… Darwinian indeed.

So let’s get back to on-premise exchange otherwise known as Exchange Server. By the way, Exchange Server is the same software that the third-party hosting companies have. Microsoft’s Exchange Online, while also running Exchange Server 2013 has quite a few capabilities and features that are not available at all, or at least delayed for the on-premise version, and therefore the hosting provider’s versions. So if you are an IT Manager with on-premise Exchange Server, you are probably smiling that your organization was not involved in the hosting issues described above.

While the battle rages on, you sit comfortably on the sideline, literally Master of your Domain. We hear it all the time, “We have on-premise Exchange, it has all we need and never goes down”. On the first part “has all we need” you are either oblivious or in denial, and on the second part “never goes down” you are lying. I have written at length about IT’s fears of loss of control, or worse loss of a job. The more I talk about the breadth of solutions that Microsoft has in their cloud stack, the greater this fear becomes. So let’s forget about all that and just talk Email.

The typical midsized business with an actual IT department usually has a rack of servers, either literally on the premises or at a private data center or both. Among these servers, many workloads are taking place beyond just email: file shares, accounting software, ERP, anti-virus, too many really to list. But in looking at the email function in particular, it is impossible for IT to be heroes. Email is assumed, like air conditioning or electricity, nobody even thinks about it unless it goes down. When this happens, IT bubbles up from being out of the users’ minds, to a bunch of freaking idiots. Your heroic efforts to restore service are neither appreciated, or even thought about two seconds later.

From an IT perspective, Email presents nothing but risk to your department and its internal reputation. And for what? The perception of control? The impression that you have a better ability to keep it up than Microsoft? I would compare Microsoft’s uptime record for Exchange Online, to any IT department in any midsized business. So even if there were no other reasons, this alone should be reason enough to get out from under email, but there are other reasons.

spamcanLet’s take a quick look at just one important feature, anti-spam. I am going to make the assumption that you not only have Exchange Server, but you also have Forefront protection, which I know many of you do not. Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is the next version of Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). EOP anti-spam protection features are included in Exchange Online. The following are benefits of using Exchange anti-spam protection in the cloud (Microsoft Exchange Online or Microsoft Exchange Online Protection) as opposed to Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, which has most of the same built-in anti-spam capabilities as Microsoft Exchange Server 2010:

  • More control and easier configuration   Administrators can use the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) web-based management console in order to customize spam filtering settings so that they best meet the needs of your organization. There is no anti-spam user interface in Exchange Server 2013.
  • Stronger connection filtering   In Exchange 2013, connection filtering IP Allow lists and IP Block lists are available only if you install an Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2007 Edge Transport server in your perimeter network. In the cloud, you can choose to skip spam filtering on email messages sent from trusted senders (gathered from various third-party sources), ensuring that these messages are not mistakenly marked as spam. Also, the hosted filtering service uses Microsoft’s own block lists and lists aggregated from vendors to provide greater IP-level filtering.
  • Stronger content filtering   You can easily configure your content filter policy to:
    • Filter messages written in specific languages.
    • Filter messages sent from specific countries or regions.
    • Mark bulk email messages (such as advertisements and marketing emails) as spam.
    • Search for attributes in a message and act upon the message if it matches a specific advanced spam option attribute. If you are concerned about phishing, some of these options offer a combination of Sender ID and SPF technologies to authenticate and verify that messages are not spoofed.

    In addition to the above content filter options that you can configure in the EAC, the hosted filtering service uses additional URL lists to block suspicious messages that contain specific URLs within their message body.

  • Quicker updates   Spam updates are propagated more quickly across the network. In Exchange Server 2013 updates occur two times per month, whereas the service is updated multiple times per hour.
  • Outbound filtering   Outbound spam filtering is always enabled if you use the hosted service for sending outbound email, thereby protecting organizations using the service and their intended recipients.

This is only one aspect of email, anti-spam, but there are many others. On our Exchange Online product page we have a complete breakdown of the differences between Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Online. Note that the differences are even more stark if you are on an earlier version of Exchange Server, but I am not showing all of those.

When is the best time to make a move?

This is a huge question with different answers depending on your situation. It also has a great deal to do with how much value you place on different feature and capability gains, which also varies from business to business. There is also a migration cost to consider. If you are currently on one of the other hosted Exchange providers it is fairly easy to do a cost/benefit analysis and make a decision. The challenge sometimes is getting past the misinformation that their desperate sales staff will spew as they try to keep yet another client from leaving their over-priced solution.

If you have an on-premise Exchange Server the trigger points are much different. We often find companies making the move when either hardware or software upgrades are required in order to avoid that expense. This is a very pragmatic approach that completely discounts the additional value received, but the C-Suite has usually looked at IT as an expense to be managed rather than a value creator.  Sometimes a move is triggered by a failure of something that creates downtime, or spam issues. This is not the best time as undue pressure may be placed upon IT, but the fact is that many migrations are reactive rather than proactive.

I encourage you to look into Exchange Online… thoroughly and objectively, then contact us to discuss your situation, we are here to help.

Source: A closer look at Hosted Exchange from Microsoft
Forceworks

Read the original blog entry...

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today BZ Media LLC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and Commercial Drone markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...