Business technology changes dramatically year-to-year. New Microsoft Exchange platforms have kept pace with advances like BYOD, remote always-on workforces and the need to protect and preserve sensitive data.
While your current Exchange Server version has remained a stable platform for business email, it’s a product of a technologically simpler time. And because Microsoft will stop supporting it, you won’t be able to count on security patches and other timely updates.
Staying with your current solution requires no new monetary investment or change to the user experience, but it comes with increased risk and costs. Without security patches, your email will become more vulnerable to hackers and may violate regulatory requirements against running unpatched software. You could also face increased support costs if you have to hire a third-party.
Given the risks, staying with your current solution usually isn’t the best option. So you have a choice to make: you can upgrade to a newer on-premises Exchange platform or you can move your Exchange email to the cloud.
Upgrading to a newer version of on-premises Exchange will bring you all the productivity benefits and security protections you need, but you’ll most likely need to invest in new hardware and hire a third-party migration consultant to set everything up. You might also need to upgrade tangential software like SharePoint if the version you’re using now isn’t compatible with your new Exchange Server.
With cloud-based email, your investment shifts from capital to operating expenses. You won’t be maintaining a server on-site. Instead, you’ll be paying a monthly subscription fee for the latest version of Exchange.
A major benefit to moving your email to the cloud is that a cloud provider can offer you a higher degree of security and reliability than anything that you could deploy and maintain on-premises. And when a newer version of Exchange is released, they’ll perform the upgrade. The key to success with this option is selecting the right service provider.
When you evaluate cloud email providers, you’ll want to look for a few important things. You’ll want a provider that performs the onboarding and migration for you, at no additional cost. Make sure they explain the process to you and have Microsoft-certified technicians performing the work.
If you’re in a regulated industry, make sure your provider meets your compliance needs. You’ll want to know how their datacenter is secured and the types of audits they’ve had done. And what security and privacy features they offer.
Look for a provider that offers a high level of reliability – at least 99.99% uptime. That way you can sure that your email service will be working when you and employees are. And you’ll want 24/7 technical support just in case something goes wrong.
You might also think about moving other IT services like your email archive or file backup to the cloud. When you give multiple services from one provider, you can usually save money through bundled pricing. Just make sure your provider is charging you per user/per month so you don’t have to worry about data storage limits or other overage fees.