Microsoft Exchange continues to serve in its role as an email and messaging server for businesses of all sizes. But considering the headaches it sometimes gives to intrepid IT managers all over the industry, is there another email server software option worth checking out? Or maybe a collection of solutions for common issues could let an IT shop get some more life out of an application now used for nearly 20 years?
Let’s take a look at some potential solutions to an IT administrator’s problems when dealing with Microsoft’s email messaging server.
Glancing at Microsoft’s Issue List for Exchange
A quick gander at the Microsoft Knowledge Base for their email server software reveals a variety of issues sure to cause IT admins to pull their hair out. There are apparent problems dealing with ActiveSync and a variety of third-party devices, and a wide array of issues concerning Exchange Server 2003 — and this page for a 10-year-old piece of software still gets activity from Microsoft engineers. The listed ActiveSync problems run the gamut from a meeting attendee now being listed as the organizer, to associated issues with the client meeting calendar.
Many of these ActiveSync problems are part of today’s mobile-driven, BYOD IT landscape where IT admins need to be responsible for a variety of Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices accessing the mail server. To help with these problems, Microsoft recommends always installing the latest service packs for Exchange Server 2007 and 2010, and ensure employees regularly update their mobile OS version.
Beyond bug hunting and squashing, IT admins responsible for Microsoft’s email server software regularly deal with general maintenance and deployment work. Could this time be better spent elsewhere in the IT operations role? Do SMBs still need to bother with a full, complex email server installation?
A Hosted Solution or Office 365 to the Rescue?
Many managed service providers offer a Cloud-based solution that can have benefits for small to medium sized businesses. For that matter, MSPs need to look at providing Cloud-based Exchange services to their client base. As more companies choose to outsource their IT admin role, they will definitely need a MSP option for email and contact management services. Remember, of course, that StorageCraft promotes local backup and recovery first– any cloud-based services rely wholly on Internet access and make local recoveries impossible.
Microsoft’s own Cloud-based Office 365 product is another option worthy of consideration by the SMB. Office 365 includes Cloud-hosted versions of Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Lync 2010 — the latter being Redmond’s software for unified communication services. Considering the name “Office 365,” many of those holding the IT role at smaller organizations probably didn’t realize this offering from Microsoft includes the full email, messaging, and contact management software in addition to SharePoint.
Considering Office 365 and similar functionality from Google Apps, the IT operations team for many businesses don’t really need to deal with the seemingly endless maintenance issues related to running their own on-premise email server. Leveraging a Cloud-based option for company email and contact management allows IT staff to focus on more pressing issues for optimizing business operations with technology.
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