Pros and Cons: Moving Exchange to the Cloud
"The cloud, the cloud, go to the cloud!" they say. The cloud is in the news, in your dreams, in your nightmares, on TV, in your Inbox, on your couch (okay, maybe not there). Attend any technology or business conferences these days, and it's bound to come up. It is literally everywhere. But just because the cloud is sexy, just because it's promising to put your kids through college or place your company in the Fortune 500, does that make it right for your business? First off, kudos to you for doing your due dilligence. The cloud, as promising as it may be, has become more complex in the last couple of years as "cloud experts" and more cloud vendors popped onto the scene. As a company that's been been working with the cloud in-depth since it's inception, and helped hundreds of companies assess their cloud readiness, we thought we'd pass on a few pros and cons with regards to moving Exchange to the cloud that might help you avoid any headaches in the long run.
Pros of Moving Exchange to the Cloud
Increased reliability: Moving Exchange to the cloud means that email will still be accessible with little to no noticeable interruptions, without the hassle of having to maintain on-premises hardware. Most cloud vendors offer competitive uptime guarantees of up to 99.9%, and Microsoft has even been known to exceed that number. Now with that said, IF the migration itself is not properly planned and executed, your business could experience downtime in the transition. You want to make sure you find a cloud partner that can help you make this a seamless transition so that your employees don't suffer due to poor planning.
Enterprise-level security: While concerns about security use to hold businesses back from the cloud, it's now a driving force for getting them there. Small and mid-size businesses now have access to enterprise-level security (i.e. protection against spam, malware) that was once only affordable to big business. For example, Microsoft invests billions into the infrastructure of its datacenters and geo-redundancy of its operations, making sure it meets compliance standards such as HIPAA, EU Safe Harbor and ISO 27001. It's important to know that not all hosted Exchange providers are created equal, so make sure to inquire about the security standards that your vendor upholds to.
Reduced costs: In the long-term, most organizations will experience reduced costs due to lessened capital expenditures on servers and lower the cost of operation overall with a reduction in staff need.
Flexibility: With fewer machines to manage, your IT department can have greater flexibility in determining new or improved solutions for the devices your organization actually uses.
Cons of Moving Exchange to the Cloud
Loss of Control: When an organization moves into a cloud environment, a certain degree of control is lost due to the environment being hosted rather than on premise. For example, in a hosted environment certain file types are restricted, such as XML files for security protection. Say your organization, a collection agency for example, receives a client report in XML format via email daily. Since XML files are prevented from being received in a shared environment, hosted Exchange might not necessarily be an ideal solution for this organization.
Cost: We already mentioned cost as a pro. It also has potential to be a con – because all environments are unique, moving Exchange to the cloud could prove more or less costly than an on-premises solution. An example of hosted Exchange causing additional costs is when resources other than employees, such as conference rooms or projectors, are managed through Exchange. If your organization currently manages these types of resources through Exchange, moving to the cloud could be much more expensive since each resource comes with a set monthly cost.
Increased Bandwidth: Some organizations, especially highly collaborative ones, will need to double or even triple their bandwidth upon moving to hosted Exchange. More megabits can be costly, and unnecessary expense for organizations.
There is also a downside in the case of internet being disabled. With an on premise solution, emails can still be sent and received internally with a LAN. In a hosted environment however, if internet goes down so does all email, internal and external. Many organizations find that they are forced to purchase additional services in order to insure email availability in the case of internet failure.
The Migration Itself: We all know that sometimes short-term pain is worth the long-term gain. But a botched Exchange migration can definitely result in unnecessary, prolonged downtime as well as lost time and wasted resources. It's simply not worth it. A migration plan is the essential first-step. So if you're the one responsible for the migration, be the hero - form a plan, make sure business managers are on-board and know your timeline. And, it may be worth your while to enlist a cloud partner to help you create that plan. (Also check out, 5 Tip to Avoid Office 365 Deployment Pitfalls).
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