As part of my dive into the world of Microsoft Online Services one of the things I’ve not been able to find in one place – please correct me if I’m wrong – is a list scenarios where BPOS can really help you out. Our various partners who help you get up and running on BPOS have some good stuff so what I’ve done here is aggregated some of that info and made it more generic.
You’ve realised that Email is low hanging fruit in the cloud tree
Email is really easy to move to the cloud. There are lots of distinct units (mail boxes) that mean the impact on testing and a gradual rollout to BPOS is simple to do. Not only that but there’s the high availability and low cost of management, you don’t need to patch or any of that stuff and you don’t need to buy the tin. You also don’t need to get in with both feet. Your cloud solution (or at least BPOS) can coexist with on premise (dare we say private cloud?) meaning you get to do this as you feel comfortable with it.
Your internal customers are used to email delivered from the cloud too, in fact they probably expect it – especially the younger members of your staff. They’ve grown up with services like Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, Gmail and the likes so they expect their email to always be there, to never go down, to never require maintenance, to have huge storage capacity (25gb is the default with BPOS). This is an example of where the consumerisation of IT is driving your users expectations. BPOS represents the best first step to the cloud.
You’ve out-grown your existing Exchange environment
Coexistence in Exchange means you can add to your existing Exchange infrastructure by connecting to BPOS. That means you get your GAL extended into the cloud and it all feels seamless for your users. There are times when you need to deploy new Exchange 2010 boxes internally but they are reducing. Compliance could be a major turn off but in the case of BPOS that’s not the case! SOx and the likes are supported by BPOS they aren’t by many other providers.
Storage is a big thing here. How much storage do your on premise Exchange users get? The 25gb offered by BPOS could be an expensive thing to grow to for all your customers, if you needed to buy the spindles and platters.
Again it goes down the cost of tin and maintenance, there are times when you’ll want to scale out your Exchange infrastructure but it now should be ROI costed against BPOS.
You’ve acquired a company on another system
I love this one. Your company bought another company, again, without thinking about how to integrate the IT systems. Email just works right? Well…er..er…
We’ve seen Exchange Online used for just this scenario quite a lot. You have to get people onto your email system yesterday, it’s imperative to keep the newly acquired business functional, profitable and (possibly) to show them who’s boss. The ability to integrate Exchange Online rapidly with your existing structure, you can do it in about an hour if the DNS gods are shing on you and the wind is in the right direction, is superb. They need access to your GAL, they’ve got it, they need to start receiving email @contoso.com , they’ve got it.
Not only that but all their mail can be in brought over too so they don’t loose their archive of 10 year old email Exchanges that they intend to use to justify that pay rise.
You need to move from another Internet based mail system
Same solution as above, mailboxes can be imported. That is super cool for moving from one provider to another, if they had an outage recently because they can’t really scale and don’t really have an enterprise ready solution. In fact this scenario applies to moving off of other in house email systems.
Asside: I once helped move from a green screen email system to a gui based one. Email volume tripled overnight and the reason was it became more usable. Unfortunately that solution didn’t scale, but it delivers a bit of sage advice. Be sure what you move to can scale beyond what you currently consider the norm.
You use SBS and you’ve outgrown your 75 user limit
SBS or Small Business Server includes Exchange and it’s all a small business needs to get started. However there’s a limit of 75 users and a tighter limit on the disk space you have installed in your box (that’s a physical limit not an OS limit). If you need more than 75 mail boxes or you need more space than you have in that box Exchange Online is for you.
SBS and Exchange Online have been used in other interesting places too, for example the two work really well for project offices. Everyone on the project only really works on the project but they need to be able to deal with email at a higher level.
You’re company has expanded into a new country and mail’s slow
This is another of my favourite scenarios, mainly because a friend of mine has been hit by the crippling situation that is SLoooooooooooooooW email. She’s just started work at a new company, the company is actually new to UK and it’s main offices are in India. Things are not so good from a reliability perspective and a speed perspective. For example they have on premise Exchange in India (where everyone is in the same building) but have a slow link out the Internet.
When something is sent internally it’s instant, when it goes to her it can take a while, especially when it’s a 10mb Excel doc. When she checks her email it has to cross that little tiny pipe to get back to her, whilst she’s waiting.
This could be solved by Exchange Online. If her company set up Exchange Online for her she’d be able to take advantage of her fast home broadband connect when she’s connected to the Exchange Online servers. Sure the files would still have to cross a tiny pipe but not whilst she’s waiting. Her experience would be better…in fact she might not be quitting next week.
In fact there is more to BPOS than just email, Sharepoint provides the perfect solution to this problem when it’s in the cloud. The ability to place a large file somewhere, or a report or just some info, and to only have to manage one place is astounding. When it’s in the cloud with BPOS it’s even better for people working remotely because you don’t need to worry about your network links.
You have a short term need for extra people with email
You need 100 seats now. You’ve got a massive sales drive hitting the ground and you need 100 new call handlers with email access like it was yesterday. BPOS can do that, you don’t need to wait to buy the tin, build it, connect it…none of that. You just do it. And when it’s done, as long as it’s been over a year you unsubscribe those seats and if it’s not you begin your cloud migration because you just proved that cloud email works.
I wrote this because cloud based email is worth thinking about. IT Pros need to be questioning when they can move to the cloud and Emails the easy way. I’d really love to know what you think, which is what the comments are for. Have I missed any scenarios that you think we all need to be considering?