Office 365 – Email in the Cloud


I get asked, what is best – have your own email server or put it all in the cloud? There is no one right answer to this question – as always, there are different angles to consider, different company needs to meet. In general, I recommend clients investigate cloud-based email, and consider Office 365 as the cloud provider.  We have a number of clients using cloud-hosted email with more switching every day. We deal with several cloud providers and have found that Microsoft Office 365 is the best of the bunch.

Let me tell you more about Microsoft Office 365.

  • Reliability: Since it is hosted by Microsoft, it is not going anywhere (cloud providers come and go and get acquired all of the time and usually it isn’t for the benefit of the user). With the large client base, it is as reliable as the best cloud providers in the market today. If you want to do more than just email it is easy to add SharePoint, Lync, and even full Office 2013 apps to your plan.
  • Costs: Most cloud providers charge about the same price depending on the bundle you need. The cost comparison revolves more around setting up your own server compared to moving to the cloud. For example, if you have 50 users to move to the cloud for just email (full Outlook setup – email, calendar, contacts), the cost is about $4 per person per month. This translates to $200 per month or $2,400 annually. Compare that to doing a new email server or upgrade – new hardware costs about $3,500 (enough horse power to handle it all and redundancy with dual power and dual processors), software runs about $1,800 for a total capital cost of $5,300. With either option there will be some consulting fees to set everything up which run about $2,600 for either option.
  • Risks:
    • Your data is on someone else’s systems and under their control, so there is a security risk
    • The provider could go out of business – then what?
    • Do not have full control over your system and data
    • Monthly cost could increase
    • Must have internet access for all new email activity (internal and external)
  • Rewards:
    • You will never reach the level or reliability and redundancy compared to the cloud providers, even if you invested a fortune
    • If there is a system failure, the world knows about it and it should be addressed quickly
    • Office 365 includes Outlook 2013
    • Unlimited online archiving of old emails
    • Fixed monthly cost
    • No need to have someone babysit, monitor, update, and manage the email system
    • Can flexibly scale up or down at any time
    • Have the ability to add additional cloud options like SharePoint, Lync, and Office 2013 licensing
    • Usually less expensive than doing your own server and the cost is spread out over years

We have seen more and more clients moving from their onsite email server to Office 365. When looking at the costs, risks, and rewards, most clients end up liking the Office 365 option. For the most part, the move is invisible to the end users (unless they upgrade to the latest version of Outlook as a part of the transition).  We haven’t heard complaints; instead, users might just notice things are faster. We have seen such client success that we switched our own email over to Office 365 and love it.

Got a question about this or any other technology challenge? Give me a call or shoot me an email and I would be glad to help with some insights and direction.







John Ahlberg
CEO, Waident

CIO in the corporate world and now for Waident clients. John injects order and technology into business process to keep employees productive, enterprises running, and data safe.

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