Hosted Exchange Benefits for End User
Intermedia commissioned a new white paper from industry research firm Osterman Research in order to provide additional tools to the marketplace regarding hosted Exchange. The below is part of a series of excerpts from the white paper, “The Case for Hosted Exchange” – available on Intermedia’s web site.
BENEFITS FOR END USERS
While IT can benefit significantly from a hosted Exchange deployment, so can end users. Among the many user benefits associated with the use of hosted Exchange are those discussed below.
A VARIETY OF ACCESS OPTIONS
A hosted Exchange account can be accessed via Microsoft Outlook on Windows, Microsoft Entourage on the Mac, and from any leading Web browser, including Apple Safari. This permits users to access their email, calendar, tasks, address lists, Exchange public folders and other content and data sources from virtually any desktop, laptop, network or other platform. In addition, an Exchange account can also be accessed from any POP or IMAP client, including Yahoo!’s Zimbra Desktop.
Further, Microsoft recently introduced Entourage Web Services Edition, allowing Entourage users to access all of the features available in Exchange. Previous versions of Entourage permitted access only to the email and calendar functions of Exchange.
WINDOWS AND MAC SUPPORT
While Apple Mail, the mail client that comes with Mac OS X, has allowed users to access Exchange for many years as a POP or IMAP client, the new version of OS X introduced in August 2009 – Snow Leopard -provides full support for Exchange. Exchange support is also built into iCal the default Mac calendaring application; and Address Book, all of which come standard on a Mac. While lacking some of the features of Entourage, Mail, iCal and Address Book provide robust and native functionality for hosted Exchange users.
In addition to a variety of desktop and browser-based platforms, a hosted Exchange account can also be accessed using Windows Mobile, which is currently supported by the majority of mid-sized and large organizations; as well as BlackBerry devices and iPhones, among other platforms. This is a critical issue, since a large and growing number of email users consider their mobile platform to be a critical component of their email access – for some users, it is their primary email platform after hours.
Also in the context of mobility, for organizations that employ BlackBerry devices a hosted solution can provide further cost savings, since it eliminates the need to manage a BlackBerry Enterprise Server infrastructure on-premise.
SYNCHRONIZATION ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS
One of the key benefits of hosted Exchange is that users who create content in Exchange will see it automatically synchronize across all their access devices. For example:
- A user can create an appointment in Microsoft Outlook on their desktop and it will appear very shortly thereafter on their Windows Mobile device.
- An email can be created using Outlook Web Access on a laptop and then appear in the Sent Items folder in Outlook on their desktop at home.
SUPPORT FOR “BIG M” MOBILITY
Mobility in the context of being able to access email, calendars, etc on mobile devices is important. However, “Big M” mobility – the ability for individuals to work from any location on any device – is becoming more important as fewer workers have a permanent location assigned from their work. For example, a growing proportion of organization allow employees to work from home and come into the office only when necessary, thus providing significant savings on facilities’ leasing costs, power, HVAC and taxes.
Hosted Exchange is a key enabler of this capability because it allow workers to have access to their email, calendars, address lists, task management tools, etc. regardless of where they might be working – be it from home, a hotel room or a client’s conference room. This can further add to the cost savings provided by a hosted Exchange deployment far beyond the IT-related savings that it provides.