In-House Exchange vs Office 365 – What’s Best for Your Business?

From a small company with fewer than ten employees sharing a single office to a corporation with locations across the globe, email makes the business world turn. How you store and manage your email infrastructure comes down to two different options: in-house or cloud hosted. There are plenty of factors that go into which option you choose. We’re here to help. Today, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of an in-house Exchange server and the cloud-based Office 365.

In-House Exchange Server

Pros

Robust Control Over Security and Data

Keeping your network secure is an absolute priority. As email becomes a more common tool for cybercriminals, having extra protection on an email server is a necessity. The most important security tools you will need are a spam filter and antivirus software. The spam filter will keep malicious emails out of your employee’s inbox. Antivirus software will pinpoint and eliminate any threats that sneak onto your network. Having your email server in-house allows you to have complete control over what security tools you install on the server.

Depending on what industry your business is in, you might have to deal with regulations regarding how you manage data. Healthcare and finance have notoriously strict regulations to abide by. Even if you don’t operate in either of these industries, it’s still a good idea to have a solid strategy to manage your data, especially customer information. With complete control of the server, this is another advantage for an in-house Exchange server.

Customization

Every business is different. What works for one company doesn’t work for another. This is true for email. Now, you may be saying “It’s just email. What can be so different about it?” Yes, email is just sending messages electronically. That won’t change. But as technology advances, developers bring new features, and third-party providers bring applications that can be added to make email a powerful communication tool for your business.

Ideal for Large Companies

Larger companies will have a high number of email users. The more users a company has, the better the in-house Exchange server option becomes. A larger company will also typically have a fully-staffed IT department to provide maintenance on the server and to fix any issues that arise. The number of users depends on a variety of factors, like the type of physical server and software installed. That number could be as low as 150 users and as high as 250.

Cons

Cost

In-house Exchange servers can get expensive. The cost associated with them will usually be the deciding factor for any company when choosing between an in-house Exchange server or migrating to the cloud. There are the initial costs that include the server and Exchange software. Reoccurring costs include the security software, user licensing, backup and recovery tools, and maintenance if you don’t have an in-house IT staff. You’ll also need to consider how much power the server will need, and the costs associated with that.

Dependability

If an in-house Exchange server is regularly maintained and the power and Internet don’t experience any major outages, the server will work. Even then, it’s hard to guarantee 100% uptime. Cut any corners in routine maintenance or slack in installing updates and your server will encounter issues before you know it.

Office 365

Pros

Scalable

Paying for more than you need can be a strain on your organization’s budget, as will constantly having fewer resources than you need. The cloud offers a lot of benefits to smaller organizations, chief among them is the ability to scale as the company grows. With Office 365, you’re able to pay for only the accounts you need and can increase or decrease that number when business needs call for it.o

Reduction of Costs for Smaller Companies

Without the need for investing in a physical server, software, or support, the costs for email through Office 365 is much cheaper for smaller organizations. If you only have a handful of users, Office 365 is the ideal solution for you. There are different types of plans to fit the needs of your company and each come with more services than email. These services also include security tools, such as antivirus software and a spam filter.

Always Up-To-Date

Since the server and software are out of your hands and the responsibility of the provider, in this case, Microsoft, you will always have the latest versions of the software you’re using. All updates are implemented automatically and will not disrupt your business or lead to employee downtime.

No Upkeep or Maintenance Responsibilities

This is one of the most significant advantages of hosting parts of your business’ infrastructure, like email, in the cloud. Office 365 email servers are managed, monitored, and maintained by Microsoft. This means you don’t have to worry about having an IT technician on staff to make sure the server is operating smoothly. With Office 365, your email infrastructure is hosted on multiple servers in different areas to provide geographic redundancy. What does this mean? If for any reason one of the servers goes down or is experiencing issues, one of the other servers hosting your email will be brought on to provide you service. All without you needing to lift a finger.

Cons

Extensive Migration

Any IT project will take time to complete. Email is no exception. If your business has been using an in-house Exchange server for several years, the migration may take some time. You will also need to make sure that you have the proper support during the migration. This problem can be avoided by working with an MSP to provide the necessary skill to complete the migration successfully.

Limited Control Over Security Tools or Customization

When migrating your email to Office 365, you don’t lose complete control over the security of your data or customization, but it is limited in capacity. There may be a little room to make changes here and there, but Microsoft determines what will go onto their servers. This is something to consider if you take advantage of a lot of third-party applications or must adhere to strict regulations. Even with this, there are ways to make the cloud work for any business.

What Email Option Works for You?

Well, that answer will ultimately come down to your businesses needs. If you’re a small company with just a few users and a limited budget, the cloud and Office 365 is an ideal option. If you’re larger and want more control over your email infrastructure, an in-house Exchange server is well worth the investment.

The online IT support community Spiceworks has a handy calculator to determine costs of an in-house Exchange server and cloud hosted email. Costs are ballpark figures, but they are nice to have when making the decision.

Email Support from IT Support Guys

Whether you want to invest in an in-house Exchange server or migrate to the cloud, IT Support Guys can help implement your solution. We have over a decade of experience helping small to mid-sized business’ with their email infrastructure. To offer the right solutions, we conduct a free network assessment to gain all the information we need about your business’ technology and the network they’re run on. To learn more and schedule your free network assessment, call and talk with an IT Support Guy’s specialist today at 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).

About the Author

Ben Jones

Technical writer Living in Tampa, FL. Originally from Indiana.
In my free time, I cook, play golf, stay active (either outside or at the gym) and patiently waiting for the next Star Wars movie.