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.

Why Professional Services Are Adopting Cloud

Professional services companies provide support to other businesses. They are in a sector often known as ‘B2B’, and are responsible for providing assistance to other companies.

Professional services providers have been quick to recognise the potential of the cloud, and we find a huge amount of our customers come from this sector. In fact, there are far more small businesses taking on cloud computing than large enterprises, partly because they are more agile.

But that isn’t the only reason.

Cost savingsCloud services

Pre-cloud, most small businesses would have had to have a server in their office – perhaps expanding this to a small data centre over time. For a startup, finding the desk space for a large, bulky server could be an issue in itself.

There’s also the cost of maintaining IT hardware, or paying someone to maintain it for you. The more business-critical applications you amass, the more important it will be to keep the server online.

And what about backups? Client data is subject to stringent checks, and if any business works with personal information, they need to make sure it’s properly cared for. At one time, that would mean creating tape backups and shipping them off for storage. None of this is cheap – quite the opposite.

Practicalities

Looking at the day-to-day side of the business, it’s easy to see why small businesses have embraced the cloud. There are fewer reasons to be stuck in the office, and far more scope to collaborate with colleagues on the move.

For people who have to do 10 jobs in the place of one, this is a huge benefit. It’s a massive advantage when you can take calls on the move, or work on a document in real time with a far-flung team mate.

Barriers

Some clients ask us why they should trust their data to the cloud, given that there are so many high-profile media stories and scares. But there are far more reasons to trust the cloud with business data, than to write it off and use on-premise IT.

Hacks like the iMessage affair are few and far between, and they come abut largely because of poor security practices by the owners of the accounts in question. In business, providers like Cloud4 put security at the core of their provision. Two-factor authentication, encryption and real-time monitoring all ensure that data is safe at rest and in transit.

Often, cloud security is actually better than a business’ own internal IT. Many small companies think they are too small to bother with intrusion detection, yet hackers do target small professional services companies to get information on bigger businesses. When you move to the cloud, you benefit from pooled security resources, and the ability to lock down your data much more comprehensively than you can in your own office or home.

Find out more

Cloud4 is changing the way B2B providers work. We’re making startup businesses more effective, more efficient and more affordable. And we’re helping more and more existing service providers streamline operations and trim costs. To find out more about our simple migration solutions, contact us for a chat.

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.

 

Hosted Exchange vs Google For Work

Google has launched its Google For Work initiative with much ado and fanfare. The service brings together numerous cloud services under one umbrella – a Google login – and is essentially a competitor to the Microsoft office suites.

Yet there are plenty of reasons to consider alternatives, particularly Hosted Exchange.

What is Google For Work?

Google offered Google Apps for free for a long time, on a limited but adequate basis. It no longer offers free access, and has launched two products in its place: For Work, and Apps Unlimited.

Google For Work includes all of the basic Google services, including Gmail and Drive, plus discussion groups and YouTube. It doesn’t includes any advanced email services; for those, you’ll need to pay for Unlimited.

So what’s missing from the For Work edition? Full document search, believe it or not, is missing, as is auditing of documents in Drive. And emails are not retained forever either; there’s a 30GB limit, which is generous but not evergreen. Google Vault, its Glacier-like deep storage, is provided as a paid add-on.

Hosted Exchange: the Basics

Hosted Exchange is a product that lets businesses move their email services to the cloud. Rather than having an on-site server, the business places its data in our hands and pays us to manage the hardware. For most small businesses, this is a sensible approach, since it saves money, frees up time, cuts down on support, improves uptime and generally results in better compliance.

The key benefit here is the migration. Moving from local Exchange to hosted Exchange is a relatively simple process, with far fewer risks than a move from Microsoft to Google. If your business email is critical – surely everyone’s is – then we recommend sticking with the vendor you’re already using.

Exchange is also a mature and proven platform, while many of the services under Google For Work are fairly new. This matters in terms of downtime and availability, and it also means users are going to hit the ground running: nothing changes for them, except the server location.

Control of Your Email

There’s nothing more infuriating than downtime that you can’t fix, particularly during the working day when everyone needs their email. If you migrate to hosted Exchange, you’re putting your email in the hands of Cloud4 – a company you can speak to on the phone, or email for answers.

While Google’s support has improved, we’d argue that it cannot provide the responsiveness that a small hosted Exchange provider can provide. Likewise, we have control over your servers, and we can move quickly to find faults.

Find Out More About Hosted Exchange

Cloud email is a sensible and cost-effective solution for the vast majority of small and medium sized businesses. The solution you choose ultimately depends on the position you are in, the services you are already using, and the degree of reliance on email in your organisation. We know a Hosted Exchange has the features, reliability and performance to suit every growing business. If you’d like a demonstration, talk to us today.

Hosted Exchange vs Office 365

Cloud servicesBusinesses are increasingly using cloud computing to save money and improve efficiency. Migrating the on-premise Exchange server is a key step that can improve performance and cut costs. There are essentially two routes to the cloud: a hosted Exchange solution, or a move to Office 365.

Hosted Exchange and Microsoft Office 365 are both valid choices, but they are not the same solution. The former provides email services in the cloud, while the latter is a virtualised version of the Office suite. Both do provide reliable and scalable email services, but there are some fundamental differences that can make or break a successful migration.

About Office 365

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud version of Office, and it includes desktop software on a rental basis. It ‘feels’ the same as the traditional version, so there’s nothing new to learn. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how eager you are to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem.

Businesses buy Office 365 on a subscription model, and there are various levels of service on the menu. The most basic is Email Only. If you pay more, you’ll get access to Web Apps – online versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word – with a license to install the desktop equivalents.

Hosted Exchange is Different

Office 365 is purchased from Microsoft, but hosted Exchange is provided by a number of third parties (like Cloud 4, for example). Hosted Exchange always includes Exchange email in the cloud with support for calendars and tasks.

Hosted Exchange providers will tell you exactly where your data is stored, and precisely which countries’ privacy laws are protecting it. This is vital if you need to follow governance procedures to protect sensitive data. If you do business in the UK, it makes sense to choose a provider that will not transfer your business data across international borders.

It’s sensible to check basics like mailbox size, since those irritating mailbox warnings are the number one bugbear people have with traditional Exchange servers. Ensure Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are in place and offer adequate protection. Note that SharePoint access is not normally included with hosted Exchange, but it may be something you can bolt on.

Weighing It Up

If your organisation uses services like Google Apps (including Google Docs and Sheets), Office 365 is overkill, since you need to rent all of the software alongside the service. Sure, you can purchase the Email Only version, but then you may as well go to a third party for hosted Exchange. Even Active Directory support isn’t included on the cheaper plans.

If your goal is to have rock-solid service and unbeatable uptime, hosted Exchange ticks both of those boxes. For small businesses, hosted Exchange provides the core functionality employees need alongside flexibility of choice. SMEs can adopt solutions from other vendors, rather than being tied into Microsoft’s systems for everything.

Your hosted Exchange provider will help you to migrate your Exchange server over to their cloud platform; this is something Microsoft cannot offer with Office 365. Your provider will also let you know how to change your email server details on any devices already in use; Microsoft offers no phone support for SMEs at all.

Convinced? Activate your free hosted Exchange trial now.

Hosted Exchange 2013 – is it an ideal solution for my businesses?

Email is the most integral part of most modern businesses, acting as a main source of both internal and external communication. As such, it’s important for businesses to have a substantially reliable email service so that they can focus on their business strategy over their IT infrastructure.

Forum discussionOne of the main reasons many small businesses adopt Hosted Exchange, or migrate their existing Exchange data to the cloud, is to improve the mobility of their business. Continue reading Hosted Exchange 2013 – is it an ideal solution for my businesses?

Hosted Exchange – A Buyers Guide

Hosted Exchange user numbers continue to grow.

Hosted Exchange for Business
Hosted Exchange Continues to Grow

The growth of Hosted Exchange as the preferred business email solution was predicted by Microsoft several years ago, and now in November 2012 there seems no end in sight to the ever increasing number of businesses going hosted. It has been widely predicted that around 70% of small and medium sized business in the UK will adopt hosted email over the next few years, with up to 30% by the end of 2013.

 

Continue reading Hosted Exchange – A Buyers Guide

Cloud4 Launches Hosted Exchange 2010 WEB Plan

Great new Entry Level Hosted Exchange Plan

WEB APP - Login
Simple to use OWA Login

At Cloud4, we’re always looking to innovate and bring our clients new services which they will benefit from. That’s why we have developed and launched our new Hosted Exchange WEB plan, for users who have more simple business email requirements and don’t need all the collaboration, sharing and multi-device sync that comes as standard in our other packages.

Continue reading Cloud4 Launches Hosted Exchange 2010 WEB Plan

Hosted Exchange Vs In-House Exchange!

Hosted Exchange 2010
Hosted-Exchange-Vs-In-House

You can’t get away from cloud computing in 2012! There is no doubt that the emergence of “the cloud” though not a new concept has expanded the range, and flexibility of services IT departments have access to for their businesses. One of the clear winners in the popularity stakes looking at the dramatic rise in adoption is Hosted Exchange email. Previously, businesses limited choices which were either to stick with a limited POP3 service, or to purchase and host their own Exchange environment.

Now with Hosted Exchange, organisations can have all the flexibility and benefits of an in-house Exchange without the capital expense and maintenance headaches associated with managing it. So, should your business go Hosted Exchange or should you manage your own Exchange environment internally? Let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons!

Continue reading Hosted Exchange Vs In-House Exchange!