Are you looking to implement a new email system or to migrate from an old version of Exchange to the most current? If so, you may want to look at implementing it in Exchange Online. Exchange online, not to be confused with Office 365, or Microsoft 365, would be the online version of Exchange hosted by Microsoft. Options are always good, and with Exchange Online you have a few. This path may not be the answer for all types of businesses, but it bears looking into.
If you are just starting up a business and are looking into email services the easiest solutions would be to start off with Exchange Online. Microsoft can host users for about $4 month each in the cloud. This would give each user a 50GB mailbox and offers security and full access whether users are inside or outside the office with ease. If you are looking into Email services along with the full Microsoft Office Suite of applications there is also an online option for you as well with Office 365 Business Premium.
In an environment that currently has an Exchange Server (or more) and you are looking to upgrade to a later version of Microsoft Exchange like 2016, one option may be to consider migrating to Exchange Online instead. There are many things to consider though before taking this step and one may want to look at the actual ‘qualifying’ reason for the move. It could be that you may want to reduce the footprint of your Datacenter(s). It could be that the hardware currently in use is at end of life, or it could even be that your disaster recovery plan may not cover a ‘real’ disaster. While moving to Exchange Online may resolve some of these issues there are some things to consider prior to the move.
The first thing to look into is to see if there any dependencies of your on premise Exchange by other software/devices that are in use within your company. You need to check that all of these dependencies can be accommodated in the Exchange Online environment. This being the case, if the plan is to reduce the Data Center footprint for Exchange, some of these device may still need to stay in place even after a successful migration. Compliance devices (ie archiving appliances) may need to stay up and running until the compliance period has expired. If deploying in a Hybrid environment, a local directory sync server, and even your on premise Exchange server may still be needed (so reducing footprint may not be as great). Also, let’s not forget the network.
Currently, all your users are connecting to the local exchange environment to get their mail. Now all these users will be pulling data directly from the O365 cloud for mail. Any attachments and other ‘mail’ related traffic will now be initiated by each user on the network to the outside while they are on premise. There are some plus sides to migrating to Exchange Online. Security of email both in transit & at rest are encrypted. The ability to retrieve email whether on premise or off, without the need to modify any network or security policies. Multifactor authentication for all mobile devices is also available. Also, because Microsoft is managing this environment, your IT staff will not have to worry about downtime because of any Security updates or Patches. For those requiring that 99% uptime, this may be enough reason in itself.
There are many other reasons to either stay on premise or move to Exchange Online/O365. Some real investigation is needed prior to moving towards any migration path. During your research, try speaking to others in your industry to see what pain points they have encountered with each option. Again, options are always good, but sometimes daunting.
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Author Bio: Steven Rainess is a Solutions Architect for CCSI. He has 25 plus years experience in the IT industry. For most of these years he has been a consultant as a Subject Matter Expert in Systems, and Networking area, as well as, some Project Management and Development work. His work has covered many verticals including Financial, Education, Broadcasting, and Software Development.