One of the first things we look to do any time we take over a new client is get the email offsite; beyond the hidden costs of keeping your Exchange in-house (in terms of support, hardware, spam filtering, antivirus, etc) there is also the built-in safety of having your mail hosted at a large-scale data center that is built to support an enterprise-level environments. There’s some level of market saturation in this area; most cable companies and web hosting providers offer Hosted Exchange, as of course does Microsoft itself through its worthy but prickly Office 365 solution.
Pathfinders IT has clients using a wide array of companies on this spectrum, but in terms of price, ease of management, and of course performance; because of our exposure to the variety of services, Pathfinders has decided to release what we consider to be a top-to-bottom list of the only players in the Hosted Exchange market worth considering:
- Sherweb - From a IT Provider’s perspective, Sherweb offers a host of advantages over its competitors; in particular, a strong reseller platform with clear benefits and competitive pricing. Where most Hosted Exchange providers include the service as an addon to a primary business built around hosting websites or Virtual Servers, Sherweb has a ground-up dedication to Exchange; they offer an obscene amount of storage at a low cost and a comprehensively featured backend for the management of users, mail forwarding, distribution lists, and so forth.
- Rackspace - An industry leader with a solid product and an excellent reputation. Expensive storage options and a limited management interface keep it from the top spot. It features excellent support, a strong brand name, and a polished user-interface experience.
- Smarsh Exchange - An excellent, if unremarkable Hosted Exchange service. Spartan back end, spartan support, and limitations on what can be done without calling into support keep it from landing higher on the list. Smarsh will do its job and do it well; and they are approved by a wide range of broker-dealers and compliance conscious industries.
- Office 365 - Microsoft’s offering comes with some overhead that the others don’t get involved in; they make it easy to package it together with the entire office suite to provide an additional boost to all-in fixed cost productivity software. No more worrying about upgrades or licensing as all of that comes part and parcel with the service. Unfortunately, the support is lacking and configuration problems lurk around every corner. Anyone can purchase the service, but users who aren’t at least a little tech-savvy will be frustrated trying to get anything done.
- Apptix - A solid offering with a wide range of back-end features that makes it easy to implement and manage public resources (calendars, contacts, etc.) – support is critically lacking, however, and long wait times should be expected in the event of an issue. That being said, the management interface is comprehensive and promising – if they were able to resolve the issues with response time and level of knowledge on their helpdesk they would certainly be rated higher.