Just as Microsoft ends its support for Windows XP, on April 8, 2014, it will also end its support for Exchange Server 2003. Many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) have yet to create a migration plan for either situation, but one idea to help update Exchange is to move your email to the cloud.
In a recent email exchange with Michael Gold, president of Intermedia, one of the largest providers of hosted Exchange services in the cloud, Gold presented a number of reasons that choosing to use a cloud provider for Exchange email makes sense for SMBs, including access to more than just Exchange, dedicated uptime for your services, and easier migration to newer versions of software when they become available. Gold explained about Intermedia’s services:
"There are two reasons our customers choose us for Exchange 2010 or 2013: first, our breadth of services. Though we're the largest independent Exchange provider in the world, our Office in the Cloud suite encompasses far more than Exchange. It also includes Lync, SharePoint, SecuriSync file sync and share, email archiving and much more. Second, we assure a worry-free experience for our customers. This means 99.999 percent uptime, 24/7 phone support with hold times of less than 60 seconds, and—most importantly if you're coming to us from on-premises Exchange 2003—free migration performed by our dedicated team of experts.”
Cloud-hosted software makes it much easier to support Exchange and provide upgrades without a hassle or downtime. At Intermedia, Gold says they provide customers with a worry-free migration:
"Our Cloud Concierge team migrates 25,000 mailboxes a month. They've migrated 450,000 mailboxes since 2010. They know how to do it so there's no downtime and no disruption for your users. All our services are pre-integrated, designed for mobility and managed from a single pane of glass. If you want to stay current, move to the cloud. When new versions come out, we invest an incredible amount of time and energy into making it simple to move to the newest versions. We have 600 people and 10 data centers dedicated to keeping our customers at the cutting edge.“
For SMBs that elect to perform an on-premise migration from Exchange 2003 to a newer, supported version, the process could take longer than expected. Many challenges crop up during any software migration, but ones involving email can be especially difficult. According to Gold, migrating to an Exchange environment in the cloud is much simpler:
"Here's why an on-premises migration takes so long: It often requires tandem work on adjacent third-party systems in your network. Plus there are hardware considerations and licensing complications. You have to plan it, implement it, and then troubleshoot it—all without any downtime for your users. An on-premises upgrade can take weeks or months. Intermedia moves most of our customers one to three days. Compare that [on-premise migration] to moving to the cloud. There are no hardware considerations. You don't need to upgrade your adjacent systems. And if you choose Intermedia, you're in the hands of migration experts who know how to assure uptime at all steps of the process..."
Finally, for SMBs that are concerned about security in the cloud, be sure to look for cloud service providers that have been certified by an outside entity. Gold says that Intermedia has achieved the SOC 2 Type II certification, and he explained further what that means to his customers:
“It means that we've had a security and protection review performed by an independent auditor. The auditor validates that our controls and processes are effective in assuring security. Most customers tell us that they're far more comfortable trusting a provider when the security assurances come from an expert third party. What's more, we're audited company-wide, not just at the datacenter level. And while many providers only choose to be audited against one or, at best, two of the five trust service principle, Intermedia chooses to be audited against all five: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality AND privacy."