How to choose the right Hosted Exchange provider

By: Jamie Graham

Date: 18 May 2012

Mailbox{{}}There are lots of different ways to create an email system for your business. An increasingly common option is Hosted Exchange. This gives your business access to Microsoft’s Exchange email system (used by bigger businesses for years) on a pay per month basis.

And as Hosted Exchange has become more popular, the number of suppliers offering it has increased too. If you’ve decided Hosted Exchange is the right kind of email system for your company, here are four key elements to consider when assessing suppliers:

Data migration

Unless you're starting your business from scratch, you’ll need to move data from your old email system into your new one. If you currently use an in-house system, moving to Hosted Exchange means data from your on-premises servers is now going to be stored in the cloud.

Any loss of important emails or data will cost your business money, so you’ll want a provider with plenty of experience of migrating from similar systems. Ask about their experience in data migration, how long it will take, and if there will be any time during the process when your data is unavailable.

Security

Keeping your email safe and secure is essential, and business-grade email services should take strong security precautions. Ask your Hosted Exchange supplier if you will have to make any security arrangements on your side, or if they’ll take care of it all.

Also ask what their security record is. When did they last have a virus infection? What other security measures do they have in place? What specific anti-virus and malware protection do they use?

Reliability

It’s no good having the safest email system in the world if you can’t access it when you need to. Reliability is every bit as important as security. Ask your supplier what uptime their service has had over the last three months. Look for at least 99.9% - and ideally more.

Get them to provide a guarantee of uptime in writing. This usually comes in the form of a service level agreement (SLA), which explains what compensation you’re entitled to if the supplier doesn’t deliver uptime as promised.

Support

If something does go wrong, you need to be able to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

Make sure technical support is available round-the-clock, and not just by email. Lost access will cost your business money, so be sure to choose a provider that offers support over the phone and – if you like – by instant messaging. The key thing is being able to get an instant response, day or night.

Jamie Graham at Incontech Hosted Solutions.

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