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Best email & Exchange hosting solutions for small business


exchange Best email & Exchange hosting solutions for small businessEmail was introduced in the early 1980s and today we can’t imagine the world without it.  With the introduction of Microsoft Exchange, we now have our emails, appointments, contacts and calendar synced to our smart phones and office computers and home PCs.  What I however run into is many small businesses owners get talked into hosting their Exchange servers in their own home offices instead of data centers/shared hosting.  When a small business owner calls up an I.T. consulting firm and asks them what would be the best way for them to use their corporate email the very first recommendation is “let’s host an Exchange server in your office!”

There are several reasons why I.T. consulting firms recommend hosting the exchange server in the small business office and it all comes down to money. To setup an exchange, a service firm would charge a premium for the server, upcharge on the software licenses, throw in another 3-5 work hours billed at $120+ / hour on top of that to setup the actual server and you have an I.T. consulting firm that is walking away with over a thousand dollars’ worth of profit all in one day and a few hours!  Sure a server could cost the business owner $1,000, Exchange server licenses of about $600, Window Server $500, virtual server license (VMWare) $500 for a total of over $3,000 in cost to the small business owner just to host email, and this does not include the cost of high speed internet or the price to setup a push to Blackberry mobile devices, nor is this a reliable Exchange environment hosting on a single server. There are several problems with this setup, if the server crash, a hard drive fails, your office internet goes down or you have a power surge, everyone in your company is stuck with no email, contacts, appointments or anything else your exchange does.  The truth about exchange is it requires high end server hardware and redundancies such as two physical domain controllers and a separate server just for Exchange itself, so that’s a total of 3 high end servers, to have a reliable Exchange server environment. This is price effective in a large organization with an I.T. staff to service and troubleshoot any problems; however small business owners it would be absurd to spend this much money to host an unreliable exchange.rack Best email & Exchange hosting solutions for small business

You might be wondering what the solution could be?  Well its simple, it’s called Shared Exchange Server hosting.  How this works you might wonder?

Server virtualization has totally revolutionized the I.T. industry (more on this in another blog post).  What virtualization let’s hosting companies do is using their physical servers, they can emulate or run multiple Windows or Linux based virtual servers on one physical server.  This allows for shared hosting companies to be able to host multiple domains for different users/firms not only using multiple physical servers, but also emulating multiple virtual servers on the same hardware!  This basically means you share the same server hardware with many companies/users that are also using the shared exchange hosting with your particular hosting company.  The advantages to this is significantly reduced cost of hosting, as this effectively limits the number of physical servers a hosting company needs to have.  What this means to you as a small business owner is HUGE up front savings, you only pay a flat monthly fee per user, and the peace of mind that most hosting companies guarantee 99.99% of up-time.

Most firms that do shared exchange hosting don’t lock you into any long term contracts, it’s strictly month to month, the fees are anywhere from $10-30 a user per month.  The best part about this is the servers are located in a secure data center, with many redundant backups on multiple servers which eliminates the dreaded SPOF (single point of failure).  If one of the physical servers crashes in the shared hosting environment, other servers on the network will take up the slack of the crashed server so there will be no disruption of services for the end user. 

Things to consider: 

How large is your firm?   If you have over 100 employees it makes more sense to host your own exchange servers, 100x$30 that is $3,000 per month that you could be spending on exchange!   I would definitely recommend going with the exchange server in your home office.   Although the up-front cost could be a sticker shock considering you would need at least 3 physical servers to host a reliable Exchange environment, plus all the licenses, so the price tag for something like this could be close to $10,000, but having this done however will pay for itself in the long run.  If your firm is small and only has 5-10 employees and you would like to integrate exchange, the shared hosting option would be a definite solution!

How technically savvy is your staff?  Here is the problem, once you have exchange setup in your office, if anything crashes or some kinks need to be ironed out, it would be crucial to have a technical person on staff or have a contract with a firm that can manage your exchange setup on site.  This is something to also consider when hosting your exchange server, if a server crashes or something goes haywire you as a small business owner will have to pony up cash to have it fixed.

What are the advantages of going shared hosting route?  This one is obvious; the cost and reliability!  Because you are sharing the same server hardware with many other companies/users this means that to add another account to the server costs the hosting firm only pennies.  You have zero up front cost and only pay a month fee per user.  The hosted exchange is managed and operated entirely by the hosting firm, this means that any problems they might experience with their server will be addressed quickly with almost no interruption to you as the end user.

To sum this up

If you’re an owner or a manager of a large firm with 100+ employees, it would be a very smart investment to have an in-house exchange servers setup as this will save lots of money down the road; however if you are a small to medium size firm I would highly recommend to look into shared exchange server hosting, this will not only save lots of money, it will also eliminate much headache that is usually associated with in-house hosting of an exchange. 

If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear them!  

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  • 64 responses to "Best email & Exchange hosting solutions for small business"

  • Jan
    17:00 on September 24th, 2010

    This was a very good article. Full of accurate information and good advice. I use a VPS shared hosting arrangement after having a total debacle with a purported IT firm who didn’t know what they were doing. It cost me months of work not to mention the dollars lost.

    My advice is check out the experts and go with the professionals.

  • IT infrastructure
    14:02 on September 25th, 2010

    Excellent information. Thanks for laying out the pro’s and con’s of hosting your own exchange server. I found the threshold number advice particularly useful. Thanks for the post.

  • Tablet Computers
    21:28 on September 26th, 2010

    Thanks for the info,and keep up the good work on the new blog !

  • custom usb
    2:04 on September 27th, 2010

    Thanks for laying out the pro’s and con’s of hosting your own exchange server.

  • Daniel
    11:02 on September 27th, 2010

    I could definately image a world with a better email-protocol. The “best-effort” thing just isn’t good enough. Let’s do something about the headers too, don’t allow modifications of senders email.

    Please ;)

  • km
    23:51 on September 27th, 2010

    Another things you should consider on your exchange server hosting is having anti spam engine.

  • yee
    23:55 on September 27th, 2010

    I believe exchange server sharing will be the best for those non IT technical person. At least, they not need to worries about the configuration and maintenance. Plus more, subscribing the exchange server hosting is very cheap at this moment.

  • kitchen cabinets
    3:48 on September 28th, 2010

    Great! I appreciated all the information provided on the article. In my opinion, shared hosting route is such a good idea. For small businesses, this is a big help in their financial status plus doing so can help a lot on the operation and management of the company.

  • Canon ink
    12:46 on September 28th, 2010

    Small businesses seldom need a big email solution. They can set up a number of free email accounts together with their company domain name which helps establish their brand more.

  • jones act law
    1:31 on September 29th, 2010

    Thank you so much for sharing that post… It was very well explained and detailed information.. It would help especially in a growing business..

  • Kyle
    17:43 on October 2nd, 2010

    I would like to see a discussion about whether a small business of 5 to 10 employees needs to use exchange with the variety of other email options out there.
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  • Photo Restoration Guru
    17:03 on October 6th, 2010

    i think my small business is even too small for this small business setup :)

    nice post tho!

  • Live Computer Help
    9:23 on October 22nd, 2010

    Great post. While I do agree that the size of the business and financial capability does matter; security of information is also a huge factor to consider. Overall, shared exchange servers would definitely help starting businesses. This gives mobility less the cost and the hassles. Looking forward for your next posts!

  • crm software
    17:02 on November 2nd, 2010

    Overall, shared exchange servers would definitely help starting businesses.It was very well explained and detailed information This gives mobility less the cost and the hassles.waiting for your next one!

  • inexpensive website design
    9:04 on November 15th, 2010

    I would suggest signing up for Google Apps :)