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    Hosted Exchange Service?

    Anyone using a Hosted Exchange Server? I'm trying to figure out if it's worth looking into for the company and I don't know much about it or how it works compared to a regular pop account in Outlook. We don't have an exchange server and as far as I can tell the resources or need for a dedicated in-house server but the current system is a pain in the butt. We currently have regular Outlook and multiple .pst files per user (<10 Users) and it can be a huge pain to manage for both users and for me as the pseudo-IT in the office, especially with the 2Gb size limit on the pst files.

    Other than the boss I don't think anyone syncs their email to their phone so that isn't really an issue (and if they don't pay for either my phone or data I'm not syncing :hide The biggest issues / wants I can see is contact / calendar management and sharing and not having to deal with the stupid .pst files anymore. Is it even worth looking into?

    This is not my area of expertise or interest so I'm not too hip on all the ins and outs of the different systems and options...
    Revit for newbies - A starting point for RFO


    chad
    BEER: Better, Efficient, Elegant, Repeatable.

    #2
    Running an Exchange Server yourself is, um, painful. You need an Exchange Server Administrator who takes care of all the security and performance issues, constant patching, managing and planning for hardware, etc. For a small office the hosted approach can be really nice, but I have seen larger offices (50+) look into it as well. At 50 people and below it actually starts to pencil out on a cost/benefit analysis. The down side is you are severely limited when it comes to integrating Exchange with things like NewForma, or doing custom Public Folders (or whatever Microsoft is pushing now) for addressing project communication archives and the like. For a small office that isn't as much of a problem, but for larger firms it can be.
    Another option to consider is moving to Small Business Server, with an IT consultant doing the install and long term management. If you get a good consultant this can be a fairly cost effective way to move up to a true client/server infrastructure. The problem is finding a consultant who understands Architecture and Autodesk products. Too often I see techs who really don't understand the need for plotting in color to match the screen, or fine tuning a network infrastructure for some "esoteric" program they have never heard of (Revit ), or appreciate that everything REALLY is a fire that must be addressed right now. Of course, there are plenty of large firms with IT Managers who don't get it either.

    Gordon
    Pragmatic Praxis

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by cellophane View Post
      especially with the 2Gb size limit on the pst files.
      That hasn't been true since Outlook 2003
      Rick Moore, AIA
      Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects

      Comment


        #4
        I set one up for myself, but not for all of the addresses in my domain. That particular point will make a difference as to which hosting company to go with if you're not going to put everyone on it. Here's my solution that may work for you. There are multiple variations of course.
        1. Google Apps (free version) for all my email addresses (just need to change your MX record in your domain registrar)
          1. The one email address that goes to the Exchange account is simply forwarded to the Exchange Host from it's Google apps account
          2. Google spam filter is still active, so I check it once in awhile, but I get so much spam I can't really look at it all. That might be a downside if it catches too much - there are was to work around the filter.
          3. By forwarding, my setup was easier, and allowed me to test the new exchange setup, as Google apps still had a copy of the emails
          4. I set up a filter to archive all forwarded emails. Also set up a filter to auto delete emails from the archive after one year to avoid filling up my quota.
          5. I also have a "catchall" email address, ie anything is not to a specific address goes there. The spam filter works pretty good for culling the junk on top of that.

        2. I used PlexHost for the exchange hosting service.
          1. Decision was based on: okay for one user, no contract, on the lower end of monthly cost, they allowed forwarding into the service which not all services do, and good reviews. Some services don't allow catchall addresses, but I have that in Google Apps.
          2. Setup was fairly straight forward but confusing for me in some a couple of areas - I needed some tech help which I received immediately. I really had it all going in under a couple of hours max
          3. Before you do anything to your Outlook pst file, BACK IT UP.
          4. I ran dual email systems for a couple of days in outlook to verify it was working (Google was POP, Exchange was IMAP) w/o problems, then turned off checking Google.
          5. In Outlook, I archived a bunch of stuff (because is was POP, it was stored local), then the remainder emails & folders, I simply dragged from the POP account folder to the Exchange folder, which took hours to upload in my case. If you're currently on a IMAP account, I think it would still work that way.
          6. I did the same with Calendar items - list view and dragged. Dragging the calendar didn't work right. Task - dragged the folder.
          7. Works perfectly with the iPhone - email, calendar, contacts
          8. The gotchas in switching from regular Outlook to the hosted account:
            1. trying to keep Outlook rules and views. If you have too many to recreate, it might be worth trying to migrate those, but you'll need to Google how. I managed to get my rules over but lost all my custom views somehow. No biggy.
            2. Catagories and colors: If you have much and don't want to recreate, use something like Category Manager to backup and restore before you switch over.

        3. Why Outlook and not just stay in Google apps?
          1. Way easier syncing of contacts and calendars from Outlook to the iPhone - done automatically w/o any extra add-ons
          2. I live in Outlook and use GTD strategy with an add-on from ClearContext or rather a special version here
          3. I can access Outlook tasks from a couple of iPhone apps. I like Outlook's tasks since they are so well integrated, particularly with ClearContext. Google tasks are anemic and something like Toodledo is close but not as integrated.

        4. Lastly, I did run across a few hosting services that would convert your pst file for you - that might be worth it.
        Fred Blome
        Residential Architect

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by cellophane View Post
          This is not my area of expertise or interest so I'm not too hip on all the ins and outs of the different systems and options...
          Originally posted by Rick Moore View Post
          That hasn't been true since Outlook 2003
          Like I said

          Fred:

          Our mail is hosted through our webhost so there is no google to deal with. I have it set up for my personal mail and its great but I'll never get that one past the boss. He is a slave to Outlook & his iPhone.

          I know he keeps all of his email (going back close to 10 years) so there is that to deal with as well. Most of it kept for liability reasons and I know it's been used more than once so keeping and being able to access it is important. Mail is also sorted by project which is easy to do in outlook, I assume exchange is the same.
          Revit for newbies - A starting point for RFO


          chad
          BEER: Better, Efficient, Elegant, Repeatable.

          Comment


            #6
            Outlook doesn't really act any differently under Exchange. If he hasn't archived anything out of his Personal pst file, he should. Don't use the auto archive feature. Just create a new pst file called Archive and start dragging the old stuff over. I've got ALL my old projects in the archive going back more than 10 years including all attachments sent, so it is definitely huge. I open it only when I need something then close it.

            He may run into an Exchange size limit, archiving will be necessary in that case. I don't see a downside, plus the archive is local and not part of the exchange service, though some services offer archiving.

            Your email/webhost should have a way to forward one email address to the new exchange host - usually that's a setting in cPanel if that's what they use.

            Originally posted by cellophane View Post
            Like I said

            Fred:

            Our mail is hosted through our webhost so there is no google to deal with. I have it set up for my personal mail and its great but I'll never get that one past the boss. He is a slave to Outlook & his iPhone.

            I know he keeps all of his email (going back close to 10 years) so there is that to deal with as well. Most of it kept for liability reasons and I know it's been used more than once so keeping and being able to access it is important. Mail is also sorted by project which is easy to do in outlook, I assume exchange is the same.
            Fred Blome
            Residential Architect

            Comment


              #7
              Don't y'all just use banjo music to communicate over there? :hide:
              Michael "MP" Patrick (Deceased - R.I.P)

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Gordon Price View Post
                Another option to consider is moving to Small Business Server, with an IT consultant doing the install and long term management. If you get a good consultant this can be a fairly cost effective way to move up to a true client/server infrastructure. The problem is finding a consultant who understands Architecture and Autodesk products. Too often I see techs who really don't understand the need for plotting in color to match the screen, or fine tuning a network infrastructure for some "esoteric" program they have never heard of (Revit ), or appreciate that everything REALLY is a fire that must be addressed right now. Of course, there are plenty of large firms with IT Managers who don't get it either.

                Gordon
                I ran an SBS server for about 3 years....it was awesome....as everything is integrated I didn't have to login on 3 different servers just to make changes or updates. Exchange wasn't that difficult either, before I used a program called POPBeamer that would download all the POP mail to Exchange and distribute it to everyone's e-mail boxes, then I went and got an actual domain, setup the MX records that would send all the e-mail to my SBS box instead of the ISP's mail server. The bosses especially loved it that they could get their e-mail on their phones and/or check e-mail from home. PST files go away, as its all kept on the server, so if someone's computer is turned off they can still see all of their e-mail if at home...
                Michael "MP" Patrick (Deceased - R.I.P)

                Comment


                  #9
                  That's the eastern part of the state. We are slightly more advanced here and even have one of those new fangled flying kajiggers too!

                  Old project info is archived using the drag & drop method, not the auto-archive so that's not a problem.

                  I'll start poking around exchange services and see what they can tell me about it. Thanks for the input!
                  Revit for newbies - A starting point for RFO


                  chad
                  BEER: Better, Efficient, Elegant, Repeatable.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Small Business Server.....so easy Dan Zatto can do it....
                    Michael "MP" Patrick (Deceased - R.I.P)

                    Comment

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