Will Hosted Exchange Survive in a Crowded Market?

When Google announced its Gmail back in 2004, you’d have been forgiven for thinking email would be free forever. For consumers, Gmail certainly changed the way we thought about this vital service, and we have come to take messaging for granted.

In a highly competitive market, Exchange’s continued popularity is testament to its market position as a leading email solution. But can it continue to dominate business communication with Google For Work breathing down its neck?

Why Do We Still Use Exchange?

In truth, Exchange is more than just an email service, or a mailbox. It’s a complete business management system that incorporates calendars, tasks and other functionality. Exchange also ties in seamlessly with other Microsoft technologies, such as Sharepoint. If you’re in the Microsoft ecosystem, it certainly makes sense to stay there.

One of the pain points that businesses experience is the Exchange server itself. It’s a server that comes under serious load during peak business hours, yet it needs to be up 24/7. Without the Exchange server, the whole email system falls flat.

Hosted Exchange allowed businesses to stick with the Exchange system they depended on, but to outsource the management of the server. This is a much more efficient way to run a business email service because the pain, management and availability is placed in the hands of a third party provider. This means you can cut support and stop over purchasing, one of the key reasons for overspend in IT.

Looking Ahead With Cloud

The hosted element of Hosted Exchange takes advantage of cloud infrastructure, and it allows businesses to tap into a scalable and highly available method of provisioning. As long as small businesses need cost-effective services, hosted Exchange will be a popular email system.

As businesses become more collaborative, and more geographically diverse, the popularity of systems like Exchange will only grow further. The foundations are already in place, and the hosted element means employees can connect securely to collaborative and communication tools wherever they are.

Consider also the popularity of mobile computing, and the way that faster internet connections are changing the way we work. When everyone was sitting in one office, it made sense to place the server close by. Now, we can connect to a server from anywhere, and a 4G connection makes remote connections quick and easy. The user just has to change the server details on their device.

Now’s the Time to Move to Hosted Exchange

Hosted Exchange is a secure, convenient and cost-effective way to modernise your Exchange email and cut back on unnecessary spend. With easy accessibility and instant scalability, it’s no wonder businesses are doing away with their server rooms and switching to hosted solutions.

If you opt for hosted Exchange today, you’re essentially future-proofing your business email, ensuring it’s always accessible by employees working on site or far away. Microsoft has heavily invested in the Exchange brand, and we’re looking forward to years of additional innovation that shores up Exchange’s capabilities.

Could You Cope Without Business Email?

Four long years ago, Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed that email was on its way out, and messenger services – specifically Facebook’s Messenger – would change our communication habits. This has certainly proven to be true on consumer mobile devices, since we are increasingly moving towards messenger apps that use data services, rather than SMS messaging. But it hasn’t proven to be true in business.

In the corporate world, email still tends to be mission critical. Few businesses would be comfortable without it. Indeed, email’s dominance as our primary communication medium is one of the reasons we need to maintain service quality.

When choosing a Hosted Exchange provider, it’s important to balance cost with availability. A low price is no good without a decent service level agreement, which details the provider’s commitment to you, and the expectations you should have of it.

Availability and Downtime

Business critical services have to be provided to a robust SLA. It’s services like email that keep a business profitable and responsive, and poor availability could bring a business to its knees within hours.

Email is vital to internal and external communication. Client meetings, sales, marketing and support all rely on email to maintain momentum. If any one department cannot access their mail, the impact on the rest of the business is immense.

Clearly, not having a functioning email account is a productivity drain, but it can also have a ricochet effect on other areas:

– If an email bounces back to a client, they may question your professionalism and commitment

– Failing emails mean that messages are delayed, which can affect sales and marketing activity

– Employees that are unable to email will find it impossible to keep track of team activity

– Many services that rely on email will be crippled by the outage, too

Let’s be clear: sometimes downtime is avoidable, and sometimes we can’t prevent it. Faulty hardware, or an ‘Act of God’, is difficult to prevent. But that should never be an excuse for short-sightedness, or accepting a poor quality of email provision in the longer term.

Cloud4 is proud to offer highly reliable Hosted Exchange services to our many business clients. We don’t just market an SLA: we stick to it, too.

Over the last two years, Cloud4 has consistently achieved outstanding service levels. On our Hosted Exchange service, we have maintained a 99.7% uptime figure for more than two years.

Like For Like

Remember that uptime figures are often manipulated by marketing teams, and a high percentile does not necessarily mean that the service is reliable.

Take the ‘99%’ figure for example. It sounds like a good uptime statement – just short of 100%. However, 99% essentially means that the service could be down for almost 15 minutes each day, and the company would not be in breach of its SLAs. In actual fact, 15 minutes of email downtime would be enough to slash productivity and give your customers real doubts about your commitment.

When looking at hosted Exchange providers, make sure you’re comparing like with like, and ensure the provider gives you an uptime SLA that you can live with.

Find Out More About Hosted Exchange

Cloud4 is committed to offering quality Hosted Exchange email services, as part of a holistic group of services that make business IT simple. With our support, you can ditch the expensive server room and prevent infrastructure over purchasing. And with our commitment to quality service, you can be confident of 99.7% service uptime, keeping your employees connected.

How Hosted Exchange Helps You Achieve Better Compliance

Cloud 4 Computers Hosted ExchangeRegulatory compliance compels businesses to treat data with care, and according to frameworks and the law. Some industries are harder hit than others by compliance burdens, but every organisation in the EU has some kind of responsibility to treat data responsibly.

Data protection, and the safe retention of data, is the most common regulatory concern for EU businesses, and it’s not a concern that’s confined to the cloud. The mismanagement of personal information can cost a company dear, regardless of how it happens. A data breach, or mismanagement of data, is likely to pique the interest of the Information Commissioner; while the Office shoe chain was lucky to escape a fine, your business may not be so fortunate.

As your IT systems mature, and your data silos grow, it’s important to consider how that data is being stored and transmitted.

Data Boundaries

The cloud is designed to be multi-location. By its nature, it allows data to be stored in more than one place. For businesses, this is seen as a potential risk.

In fact, risk doesn’t change in the cloud. Our use of remote technologies is not a cause for concern. But businesses are right to be cautious. All of us store masses of personal data in our email mailboxes, and we also deal with intellectual property and other types of data that are subject to compliance or regulation. Once you transmit this data outside your company’s corporate network, you need to know what happens to it next.

Helping, not Hindering

Hosted Exchange involves shifting your company’s helps staff comply with policy by offering them a secure messaging platform from day one.

When you choose the right provider:

– Hosted Exchange is secure, and its ongoing security is managed by a specialised third party who are experts in their field

– Email servers are continually monitored for intruders and unusual activity

– Users can connect to Exchange on any device, including iOS and Android devices, and from any location

– All their favourite features, such as calendars, operate as they always have

– Emails are preserved and archived permanently; vital for companies who need to comply with the UK Companies Act

– Data centres comply with ISO 27001, an information security standard that suggests best practice in data storage

– Email data is always stored within the EU, not distributed to data centres around the world

The latter point is important. If email storage crosses that critical boundary, it may violate the Data Protection Directive. Note that the United States is not an approved, compliant country, which means many cloud services are unsuitable for compliance with EU law.

Cloud ChoicesCloud services

Cloud4 offers Hosted Exchange 2013 or 2010 services, hosted in compliant UK data centres and accessible all over the world. Because your service is managed by us, we take care of essential security patches and services like malware scanning. Our support teams are available 24/7 from our UK offices, ready to assist if you have any trouble accessing your business email.

 

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Access your email from anywhere

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Cloud4 to Launch Hosted Exchange 2013

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As one of the UK’s leading Hosted Exchange providers, Cloud4 is set to launch the very latest version of the service Exchange 2013 to market in April 2013, making us one of the first UK providers to build, test and launch this latest iteration of the worlds most popular business email service. Continue reading Cloud4 to Launch Hosted Exchange 2013