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How does Arrowmail's hosted Exchange Service Compare with Running your own Exchange Server?


Speed of Operation

An in-house mail-server has something a hosted server can never match:-
An uncontended, 100mbps (minimum) connection to each PC in the office which makes email appear to operate instantly.

Our hosted Exchange server has something an in-house server can never match:-
A fast, reliable connection directly to the Internet's fast-lane.
Located at Canary Wharf next to one of the main entry points of the Internet into the UK.
There's no place in the UK with a faster Internet connection.

An in-house mail-server has 2 speeds of operation:-
"near-instant" when accessed from inside the office and "fairly slow" when accessed remotely, where connections suffer the restrictions of passing through the client's broadband connection as well as the office's broadband connection.

Our hosted Exchange server has the same potential connection speed from wherever it's accessed  and the limiting factor is always the client's Internet connection.
A connection to our server usually just passes through a single broadband connection which gives a "fairly fast" connection.

If you access your email from outside the office for a substantial portion of your working day, you'll value the "fairly fast all the time" connection speed of a hosted system over the
"near-instant access while inside the office but otherwise fairly slow from outside the office" connection speed of an in-house system.

The near-instant access speed to an in-house mail-server you experience when using an internal PCs is largely an illusion.
Sure, emails travel back and forth forth at lightening speed between PC and mail-server and internal emails are delivered in a flash but in most companies, external emails are more important as that's how their business gets done.

Cached Mode, which was introduced in Exchange 2003 and is Microsoft's recommended method of connecting PCs to an Exchange server, adds a little delay that takes away that "instant" feeling when Exchange and Outlook clients are on the same office network.
Cached-mode is, generally, a good thing - see a discussion about it here.

The procedure that an in-house mail-server goes through to send and receive emails between other mail-servers on the Internet is hidden from the user and takes place at a more leisurely pace down the office's broadband connection.
It may take 1/100th of a second for an email, sent internally, to get to the mail-server but it could then be another few minutes getting it to the destination mail-server and it's not uncommon for less professional or very busy systems to introduce a delivery delay of 10 minutes, an hour or even several days.
Fractions of seconds is not the timescale that email operates in.



In-House Server and Hosted Exchange Server Link-up

It would be good to get the best of both worlds but I'm afraid we don't know how to keep an in-house Exchange server synchronised with a hosted Exchange server so that you could connect to whichever was most convenient and always see the same set of email folders.
Maybe this will be possible in a future version of Exchange.
I'll mention here that Arrowmail does offer an excellent service to link up our front-end mail-servers to your in-house Exchange server to provide such features as virus and spam filtering, a SmartHost for ensuring your email gets delivered, a "rolling archive" and a fail-safe backup system in case your server has problems. Details are here.



In-House Exchange versus Hosted Exchange


In-House Exchange Server
Advantages   Disadvantages

Internal company emails to recipients in the same office are delivered instantly and never leave the office network

 

You need to provide maintenance:-
Anti-Virus subscription
Security updates
Upgrades

Less load on Broadband from PC clients in the office checking mail

 

With a single server on a single Broadband connection, a problem can put your email off-line for several days during which time you'll lose incoming emails

You are in complete control of server configuration

 

A new server needs purchasing every 5 years

No monthly fee for the email service

 

Slow access from outside of the office

   

You need to allow access to your internal network, through your firewall, for all
mail-servers on the Internet

     
Hosted Exchange Server
Advantages   Disadvantages

You have no responsibility for purchasing and maintaining the mail-server

 

You have to pay a monthly fee

Access from outside the office is as easy as access from inside the office and, in both cases, the speed of operation is reasonably fast.

 

Internal emails have to go out to our server and back again

We have backup systems and a big incentive for keeping our servers online: if we go off-line we lose customers.

 

You have to trust your email system to an outside company and you don't have full control over the mail-server's configuration

No long-term commitment to sticking with the our system.
You can discontinue the service at any time, for any reason, and only pay until the end of the current month.

   

There's no need to allow access by unknown mail-servers to your internal network and any servers trying to send you spam aren't using up you office's Internet bandwidth.

   


Which Option Should You Pick?

The opportunity to make a choice between an in-house and hosted email system only comes around every few years, such as when starting a new company, moving offices, replacing an old server or dealing with an email crisis.
A lot of the time people don't know there is a choice and have it fixed in their mind that an
in-house server is the only option.

At Arrowmail, we want to make it as painless as possible for you to move to hosted email.
It usually takes less than 48 hours to move your in-house email system onto our servers.
We offer UK companies and organisations a free 2 month trial so you can give it a try and, if it's not suitable for your business, you can go ahead and install your new in-house system anyway.

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