I was doing some research for the organization I volunteer at. I was trying to make a case for a cost-effective email system based around Exchange. With all the talk around Software + Services I thought that this might be a perfect opportunity to propose a hosted Exchange environment. The more I looked at it, the more it made sense from an administration perspective. The biggest reason to go for a hosted solution was due to the fact that they possessed no significant in-house IT support. Because Hosted Exchange isn't run by Microsoft directly, there are many partners in different geographies offering competitive pricing and support. A quick search on the web found a cost-effective $9.95 per user for a 500MB account. This was more than enough space.
As I thought in more detail about it, however, I saw an alternative option. See, the biggest problem that most organizations have with limited IT staff is infrastructure analysis. In the case of email, it is SPAM. It can be fought, but it requires diligence and a proper infrastructure. If I told a small business admin that a single SBS 2003/2008 box will solve all his SPAM troubles, I'd be told to take a hike. The REALITY IS that a box won't be enough, but it is a matter of just flipping a switch. *SPAM ON* *SPAM OFF* Exchange Hosted services allows organizations go ahead and keep the business critical information with them but offloads the more advanced functionality to Microsoft's online service. Exchange Hosted Services include Hosted Filtering, Hosted Archive, Hosted Continuity, and Hosted Encryption.
For the low cost of $1.75 per user per month, organizations get 100% virus protection and and service-level agreement for SPAM that is customizable through IT policy. Contrast this the the time and effort wasted battling it alone. Add on things like Hosted Archive and Continuity, you've taken care of your unscheduled downtime and email archiving. All in all, hosted services just makes business sense for the small and mid-size shops.
INFO on Exchange Hosted Services:
Learn More about Secure Messaging from Microsoft.