The total cost of ownership for a full fledged messaging system based around Microsoft Exchange can be a significant hurdle for a business to jump over. The cost of purchasing, installing, and managing a mail suite requires a large upfront capital investment, followed by the recurring operational costs of skilled staff to maintain the system. Instead of dealing with such a high maintenance system, businesses should consider a hosted mail service as an exciting alternative to an in-house system.
With the release of Exchange 2010 SP1, Microsoft has introduced a suite of cloud-centric features designed to increase the flexibility of messaging services offered as a hosted service. Now, all of the advanced services that the enterprise requires are available on demand from a hosted solutions provider. Exchange 2010 is engineered to function as well in the cloud as it would on site. Significant progress to alleviate the massive I/O requirements of earlier versions of Exchange allows users to experience the same quality of service from the hosted provider, without the cost of an in-house system.
The improved Outlook Web App allows users to experience the benefits of a unified communications solution delivered from the cloud. Using a standard web browser, access to voicemail, email, instant messaging and SMS text can all be viewed and managed in one place. With Microsoft ActicveSync, these services become universally and securely accessible via Smartphone or Tablet. With these services hosted in the cloud, the corporate communications suite becomes transparent, and transforms itself into an enabler of the bottom line.
With a cloud based system, a new database replication design allows for the creation of Database Availability Groups (DAG). These are a series of up to 16 Exchange servers that use continuous replication to maintain multiple copies of the mail database. In the event of a failure, the Exchange service is maintained, with failover to the new database occurring in less than 30 seconds. This structure is ideal for a cloud based service, where the Exchange cluster could be provisioned across a vendor’s hosting locations, or across multiple vendors’ locations to ensure system survivability, and reduce the risk of data loss.
An Exchange 2010 cluster, by design, should perform best in a virtualized server environment. A cluster is comprised of several task specific machines, and multiple clusters can be established for failover and redundancy. As the organization’s demands increase, capacity can be added to the exchange environment by adding more resources to the virtual servers themselves, or by adding additional servers to handle increased user count, etc. The flexibility of these growth possibilities allows organizations to keep up with business demands, while meeting budget constraints.