|By Steve Mordue||
|April 4, 2014 10:10 AM EDT||
“Email is Email!”. This is what another Microsoft partner suggested to me, that I should say when presenting Office 365 to potential customers. He went on to say “A customer is not going to make the move to Office 365 for email, it will be for all of the other capabilities”. Well, he was absolutely correct. Using his sound advice, Forceworks has brought thousands of business users to the Office 365 platform. But I continued to have this nagging feeling, that even though users are coming on board at a rapid clip, I was short-changing Exchange Online in the process.
While it is true, that for most small and medium-sized businesses, email is simply… well, email, but for some, the differences are stark and should be known. So I decided to attempt flesh out exactly what Hosted Exchange is bringing to the table. In other words, Email is not Email, not even close. No more than a Car is a Car or a House is a House.
Of course, this conversation starts with where you start, and those points are vastly different. For most of our customers, Hosted Exchange (or Exchange Online as it is known) comes in as part of their Office 365 subscription. It is just a piece of a package that may also include Lync Online, SharePoint Online, Office, Dynamics CRM Online, Project Pro Online, Office Web Apps, etc. While together these make an undeniably superior solution to whatever most clients may be using today, Exchange Online alone is worth the price.
Business users today have their mail served from a wide array of sources, all with varying degrees of capability, performance and security. POP Accounts (thankfully fading away), webmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, proprietary vendor email systems, on premise email systems, and increasingly over the last decade, Exchange hosted by a provider. Of these options On-Premise Exchange has long been considered by IT the best choice for those who could afford the infrastructure and administration. The second best IT choice was a Hosted Exchange provider, think Rackspace, Intermedia, Sherweb and hundreds of others. Suffice it to say, if you are not using Exchange, either on-premise or hosted, most IT professionals would agree that you are using something sub-par, on multiple levels. So really there are two camps, Exchange Users, and everybody else.
Microsoft, of course, “owns” Exchange. They wrote it and launched it in the early 90s, and have been building on it ever since. Microsoft offered this software initially to businesses for their own use and later also to other businesses who would “build a business” by hosting the software on their own servers and offering Exchange Email service to business users. In April of 2009 Microsoft launched Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) as their first foray into offering Exchange as a hosted service themselves, but it was not until the re-brand and re-launch as Office 365 that users started to really take notice. And not just users, but the other hosted Exchange providers as well… and they were not too happy. Maybe if Microsoft had priced their service above the cost of the providers reselling their product things would have gone smoother, but in almost every case, Microsoft was cheaper.
From a provider perspective, Microsoft was, and is, directly competing with them, but without the provider’s cost burden of licensing the Exchange software. It is an interesting situation, paying your competitor to use their software to compete against them. It might have been surmountable, had Microsoft not gone and built all these state-of-the-art data centers. Microsoft did not build these data centers to cause problems for the Exchange Hosting providers, they built them for their entire cloud strategy which is much more encompassing than just email, but the result is the same. No other email provider, of any type, comes close to what Microsoft has behind Exchange Online. For email alone, they could never justify the cost. From a user perspective, they can get Exchange from the owner of the software, running on superior data centers for a lower cost… Darwinian indeed.
So let’s get back to on-premise exchange otherwise known as Exchange Server. By the way, Exchange Server is the same software that the third-party hosting companies have. Microsoft’s Exchange Online, while also running Exchange Server 2013 has quite a few capabilities and features that are not available at all, or at least delayed for the on-premise version, and therefore the hosting provider’s versions. So if you are an IT Manager with on-premise Exchange Server, you are probably smiling that your organization was not involved in the hosting issues described above.
While the battle rages on, you sit comfortably on the sideline, literally Master of your Domain. We hear it all the time, “We have on-premise Exchange, it has all we need and never goes down”. On the first part “has all we need” you are either oblivious or in denial, and on the second part “never goes down” you are lying. I have written at length about IT’s fears of loss of control, or worse loss of a job. The more I talk about the breadth of solutions that Microsoft has in their cloud stack, the greater this fear becomes. So let’s forget about all that and just talk Email.
The typical midsized business with an actual IT department usually has a rack of servers, either literally on the premises or at a private data center or both. Among these servers, many workloads are taking place beyond just email: file shares, accounting software, ERP, anti-virus, too many really to list. But in looking at the email function in particular, it is impossible for IT to be heroes. Email is assumed, like air conditioning or electricity, nobody even thinks about it unless it goes down. When this happens, IT bubbles up from being out of the users’ minds, to a bunch of freaking idiots. Your heroic efforts to restore service are neither appreciated, or even thought about two seconds later.
From an IT perspective, Email presents nothing but risk to your department and its internal reputation. And for what? The perception of control? The impression that you have a better ability to keep it up than Microsoft? I would compare Microsoft’s uptime record for Exchange Online, to any IT department in any midsized business. So even if there were no other reasons, this alone should be reason enough to get out from under email, but there are other reasons.
Let’s take a quick look at just one important feature, anti-spam. I am going to make the assumption that you not only have Exchange Server, but you also have Forefront protection, which I know many of you do not. Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is the next version of Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE). EOP anti-spam protection features are included in Exchange Online. The following are benefits of using Exchange anti-spam protection in the cloud (Microsoft Exchange Online or Microsoft Exchange Online Protection) as opposed to Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, which has most of the same built-in anti-spam capabilities as Microsoft Exchange Server 2010:
- More control and easier configuration Administrators can use the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) web-based management console in order to customize spam filtering settings so that they best meet the needs of your organization. There is no anti-spam user interface in Exchange Server 2013.
- Stronger connection filtering In Exchange 2013, connection filtering IP Allow lists and IP Block lists are available only if you install an Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2007 Edge Transport server in your perimeter network. In the cloud, you can choose to skip spam filtering on email messages sent from trusted senders (gathered from various third-party sources), ensuring that these messages are not mistakenly marked as spam. Also, the hosted filtering service uses Microsoft’s own block lists and lists aggregated from vendors to provide greater IP-level filtering.
- Stronger content filtering You can easily configure your content filter policy to:
- Filter messages written in specific languages.
- Filter messages sent from specific countries or regions.
- Mark bulk email messages (such as advertisements and marketing emails) as spam.
- Search for attributes in a message and act upon the message if it matches a specific advanced spam option attribute. If you are concerned about phishing, some of these options offer a combination of Sender ID and SPF technologies to authenticate and verify that messages are not spoofed.
In addition to the above content filter options that you can configure in the EAC, the hosted filtering service uses additional URL lists to block suspicious messages that contain specific URLs within their message body.
- Quicker updates Spam updates are propagated more quickly across the network. In Exchange Server 2013 updates occur two times per month, whereas the service is updated multiple times per hour.
- Outbound filtering Outbound spam filtering is always enabled if you use the hosted service for sending outbound email, thereby protecting organizations using the service and their intended recipients.
This is only one aspect of email, anti-spam, but there are many others. On our Exchange Online product page we have a complete breakdown of the differences between Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Online. Note that the differences are even more stark if you are on an earlier version of Exchange Server, but I am not showing all of those.
When is the best time to make a move?
This is a huge question with different answers depending on your situation. It also has a great deal to do with how much value you place on different feature and capability gains, which also varies from business to business. There is also a migration cost to consider. If you are currently on one of the other hosted Exchange providers it is fairly easy to do a cost/benefit analysis and make a decision. The challenge sometimes is getting past the misinformation that their desperate sales staff will spew as they try to keep yet another client from leaving their over-priced solution.
If you have an on-premise Exchange Server the trigger points are much different. We often find companies making the move when either hardware or software upgrades are required in order to avoid that expense. This is a very pragmatic approach that completely discounts the additional value received, but the C-Suite has usually looked at IT as an expense to be managed rather than a value creator. Sometimes a move is triggered by a failure of something that creates downtime, or spam issues. This is not the best time as undue pressure may be placed upon IT, but the fact is that many migrations are reactive rather than proactive.
I encourage you to look into Exchange Online… thoroughly and objectively, then contact us to discuss your situation, we are here to help.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Oct. 23, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,681
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
Oct. 23, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,943
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Oct. 23, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 842
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Oct. 23, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 9,643
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
Oct. 23, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 938
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 23, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 585
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Oct. 23, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 10,957
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Oct. 23, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,653
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
Oct. 23, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,031
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 23, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 883
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Oct. 23, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 992
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
Oct. 23, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,534
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Oct. 23, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,439
Donna Yasay, President of HomeGrid Forum, today discussed with a panel of technology peers how certification programs are at the forefront of interoperability, and the answer for vendors looking to keep up with today's growing industry for smart home innovation. "To ensure multi-vendor interoperability, accredited industry certification programs should be used for every product to provide credibility and quality assurance for retail and carrier based customers looking to add ever increasing num...
Oct. 23, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 440
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), sponsor of the IoTivity open source project, and AllSeen Alliance, which provides the AllJoyn® open source IoT framework, today announced that the two organizations’ boards have approved a merger under the OCF name and bylaws. This merger will advance interoperability between connected devices from both groups, enabling the full operating potential of IoT and representing a significant step towards a connected ecosystem.
Oct. 23, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,191
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Oct. 23, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,824
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Oct. 22, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,465
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Oct. 22, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 716
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Oct. 22, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,803
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Oct. 22, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 33,946