It was like a dream: I've decided that running an email server was not part of my business, and it was time to move this function out of my infrastructure into a hosted solution.
I won't get into the fine calculations behind this decision (involving my time managing servers, cost of backups, server hardware, hard disk space, etc, etc.) since you can probably find a lot of experts (real ones and self-proclaimed ones) around to explain why it makes sense.
I thought of Google Apps Premiere because it comes from a company that shows innovation in the way it thinks about software - plus a lot of people recommended it. And I thought of Microsoft because it provides a natural path if you are coming from Exchange servers and want to keep the functionality.
Money talks, and because of costs I decided back then to go with Google Apps Premiere, which is licensed at US$50/seat per year (note there's a free version as well). Microsoft was a bit more expensive but since then they have announced a price drop for all online services, including those delivered in New Zealand.
Moving my mail service worked ok. But I found a series of problems with Google Apps Premiere synchronization to mobile devices.
After that blog post I was contacted by a Google Sync product manager who asked if it was ok to monitor my mailbox to try and find the root causes of these problems.
After a couple of weeks where nothing was solved I just decided it was time to move on.
You see, when I posted about those problems with Google Apps Premiere synchronization to mobile devices I immediately received emails from some companies offering to host my email services.
Big thanks to the following companies/services and I hope you check them out: Telecom New Zealand with their Telecom BusinessHub, Rackspace with their Rackspace Email Hosting, Microsoft with their Microsoft Online Services. There is also a fourth local company that is working on a hosted email solution but not yet released so I will have to hold it for a while (I will update this post when they go live).
After the failed attempt of using the Google Apps I have moved my email Microsoft Online Services. There are a couple of features that I found interesting. First, when you sign up for the service you can nominate a Partner. This will be your services contact if you ever need anything - the advantage is that you can select someone local to you (or very close). For a service demo/description watch this video.
Another interesting feature is the way accounts are structured. On Google Apps you need an admin account for each domain but you don't have a single account for all services if you have more than one domain (not as in Internet domain but as in business structure).
On Microsoft Online Services you use a Live ID account to "own" the service (and pay for it) through the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal, but delegate domain management to any other account within the domain(s) through the Administration Portal. One Live ID can manage multiple subscriptions, and each domain will have its own manager.
For full disclosure, those companies offered one or another service if I migrated to their offering - migration, support, etc. Microsoft offered to extend my old trial subscription so I could continue using the service and migrate my domains to their service.
What are you doing? Is you company still hosting its own email servers? Are there a plan in place to migrate this kind of function to outside the company? What services have you decided to use? Put in the comments (just no astroturfing spam - if you work for the company be clear about it).
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