On-site e-mail server vs hosted

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There’s a debate that’s still raging on between technology professionals: does it make sense to have an on-site e-mail server or should you just put e-mail in the cloud ? Generally, the debate turns to cost and how much cheaper it can be to put e-mail services into the cloud. However, usually this particular consideration is using Microsoft’s Exchange server as the baseline for on-site e-mail. But I ask, why do we always need to use Microsoft Exchange ?

There are numerous alternatives out there to Exchange, which cost a fraction of the amount. Let’s be honest, Exchange is expensive. You have the server-side license for the server itself, and then you have per-user CALs (Client Access Licenses) to worry about. It’s not cheap, not by any stretch. But in the year 2014, is Microsoft the only software manufacturer that can provide a reliable e-mail server ?

I’m going to mention 2 alternatives that should be seriously considered by anyone looking to deploy an on-site e-mail server. Both SmarterMail and MailEnable offer FREE editions of their e-mail server software. Sure, those editions lack some of the more advanced features, but none the less, you can deploy an e-mail server for a small office for FREE. Is that not worth checking out ? I can tell you that I’ve installed both options in my test lab environment, and both have performed well. Now this of course isn’t in a production environment, but none the less, they genuinely seem like real, viable alternatives to Exchange. And even when you start looking at the more advanced features that you need to pay for and license, the price points are pretty damn good.

Remember, you need to think outside the box when recommending solutions for your clients. If on-site e-mail is what they want, you don’t necessarily need to default to Microsoft Exchange. Seek out alternatives and see what makes sense for the situation you’re in.

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Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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