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July 07, 2009

123Together.com: Hosted Exchange Provider Evaluation Checklist

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor


 
When searching for a reliable and reputable hosted Exchange provider, it’s important to ask, know and verify the prospective company meets the following evaluation checklist criteria, developed by a Burlington, Mass.-based group, 123Together.com (News - Alert), that specializes in the area:
 
Technical Support – A hosted Exchange service provider should offer round-the-clock technical support so that you can get your questions answered in real time. Just because a technical support team shuts down for the day, doesn’t mean that your business does too. It’s also helpful if the support team is based in the United States so there are no language barriers. 
 
Hosted Exchange Expertise – In order to get the most from your service, make sure the hosting provider focuses on hosted Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange Server and doesn’t offer a lot of other things like web hosting which could distract them. Also, ask if they employ technical support representatives, system administrators or developers who hold the title of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). These people have gone through rigorous testing by Microsoft. 
 
Scalability – The provider that’s selected should offer both shared and dedicated Exchange server options to accommodate your needs for today and beyond.
 
Guaranteed Uptime – Email has become the driving force for most companies and the inability to access email can result in the loss of corporate productivity and an ultimately decrease in sales. The provider should offer at least 99.9 percent uptime.
 
State-Of-The-Art Data Center – Choose a provider that utilizes a modern, state-of-the-art Tier-4 data center for maximum uptime, network connectivity, speed and data security. Tier-1, 2, and 3 data centers often don’t provide the level of availability or security of a Tier-4 data center.
 
Virus and Spam Protection – Your data shouldn’t be compromised by malicious Internet attacks and the hosted Exchange provider should take every precaution to ensure your email and data are safe and secure from Internet vulnerabilities, hackers, and network attacks by automatically scanning all e-mails and attachments on their servers.
 
Mobile Device Support – Seek support for mobile devices such as BlackBerry (News - Alert), iPhone, the new Palm Pre and other popular Smartphones to ensure that you are able to send and receive e-mail in real time and access calendars, tasks and folders while on the road.
 
Pooled Storage Space –Pooled storage space enables a company to allocate more storage space to one user and less to another from the total allotment of space provided, allowing them to take advantage of more of the storage space available to them. Just another feature a hosted Exchange provider should have.
 
Backups, Upgrades and Monitoring – Ask how frequently a hosted Exchange provider installs Microsoft’s patches and upgrades. They should make them available to customers as soon as they are available from Microsoft.
 
Microsoft Approved Platform – The Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and
Collaboration (HMC) is the only platform that has been designed, tested and validated by Microsoft for Exchange Server hosting.
 
Migration Assistance – Choose a provider that’s flexible, working with you to migrate your data at your own pace.
 
For a more detail explanation of the items listed here, check out 123Together.com’s white paper, The IT Guidebook To Evaluating Hosted Exchange Providers, located in the side bar. For more information about 123Together.com check out their Web site or their Hosted Exchange channel here on TMCnet.





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