Decision points for Exchange hosting
(This is the second in a series of articles examining Microsoft Exchange Server hosting. The first installment, "Exchange hosting makes a comeback," reviews technology issues to consider in outsourcing Exchange.)
As Exchange Server steadily gained in popularity over the years, Microsoft continually added more functionality to deliver more value. But increased complexity requires administrators to spend more time maintaining the server. This is especially true when it comes to installing and troubleshooting new features, like Remote Procedure Call over HTTP protocol (RPC/HTTP) or Exchange ActiveSync, which, due to their young age, can be difficult to get working properly.
The good news about Exchange hosting
- Capital costs and return on investment
You avoid the upfront purchase of hardware (server, storage, backup drives and tapes, universal power supplies) and software licenses for Microsoft Exchange Server, Windows Server, and antivirus, backup and spam filtering. That adds up to substantial cost savings overall, though your exact ROI will depend on the size of your organization, as you can see in the table below.
The amounts cited represent totals for the first three years of an implementation, assuming that the largest aspect of the cost for an in-house implementation is the cost of the Exchange administrator's full-time equivalent salary, estimated at $100,000 per year with benefits, scaled to the size of the organization. The estimated Exchange hosting cost is $10 per user per month, with discounts at larger volumes.
Instead of spending weeks to spec out and acquire the systems, you can sign up, create mailboxes and start transitioning over in minutes.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) and guarantee
With 99% to 100% uptime guarantees, SLAs put the ASP on the financial hook for downtime, as they must refund fees if they violate their uptime guarantee.
Hosters keep spare servers on hand, have documented processes for disaster recovery and regularly test their recovery procedures. Additionally, hosters have technical expertise available 24x7, including holidays.
Features and upgrades
ASPs run the latest and greatest version of the software, including most of the bells and whistles like Exchange ActiveSync, Outlook Mobile Access and Secure Exchange over the Internet. Additionally, to be competitive, they offer the latest and greatest add-ons from third parties such as antivirus, antispam, backup, and Blackberry Enterprise Server. Some even offer compliance and archiving solutions.