A lot of talk lately about Microsoft Exchange. Some of it only makes sense to people who are intimate with the product. I’ve heard people say, “if you’re serious about your business you’ll get Exchange’. But what does that mean? Why do I need to get an Exchange server? What is an Exchange server?
In simple terms, Microsoft Exchange is the engine that powers Microsoft Outlook. A lot of people use Microsoft Outlook to manage a basic email account – a vanilla email account you might get for free, from your ISP or included with a hosting plan – technically referred to as POP3 or IMAP4.
These are not Exchange accounts and if this is what you use you are not getting the full messaging experience.
An Exchange powered Outlook account does much more. Our website can explain the individual benefits but if you want to share, collaborate, manage your time and messaging better, get it.
Email has become as important to businesses as a phone but if you don’t have a good email account, it won’t seem like a good communications tool.
A good communications tool is always in sync. If I accept a meeting request through my mobile device, it will appear in my calendar on my desktop. If I change the time of the meeting on my desktop it will be reflected when I use the web-based interface for Outlook. Email that doesn’t do that creates more work than it solves.
So it’s not just the desktop client you get with the complete Outlook solution. Sign up for an account and you get a copy of Outlook 2003, a web-based interface (OWA) that looks and behaves almost exactly the same and a light mobile interface (OMA) for when you’re on a weak connection. Use ActiveSync or enable the Blackberry service and you’re as efficient at your desk as you are on the golf course (and nobody needs to know).
If you agree Microsoft Exchange is one of the best messaging solutions in the market, the question remains, how do I get it? Some try to host it themselves, others now out-source.
If your business has a highly trained, 24/7 operations staff, 24/7 physical security, experienced Exchange administrators on staff, an amazing connection to the internet, fully-redundant hardware, sophisticated backup . . . and tons of money, then you should host it yourself.
Otherwise, the out-source model makes the most sense. Who you choose to out-source is another matter. Whoever you use, make sure they have all the above, have automatic provisioning (add / upgrade accounts only as you need them), and provide free upgrades to the lastest versions as they become available.
If you’re serious about your business you’ll focus on your business. You didn’t try to setup your own phone system – why try and manage the rest of your communications. And finally, if you’re serious about your business, don’t use a hotmail account. Use another Microsoft product – Exchange.
V.P. Sales and Marketing
Softcom Technology Consulting Inc.