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Cloud Services Thread, On Premises Exchange Vs. Office 365 A2 in Technical; Hi All, I'm after some advice or thoughts on this. We are imminently moving away from our current email system ...
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    Trojan's Avatar
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    On Premises Exchange Vs. Office 365 A2

    Hi All,

    I'm after some advice or thoughts on this. We are imminently moving away from our current email system (Link2ICT (Bham) Zimbra).

    The way I see it I have 2 choices, On premises Exchange or Office 365. I have been doing some research on the pro's and con's of both but I would like some input from this forum on any previous experiences you may have had with this.

    (I will have to explain to Leadership the various differences between the services and need to explain it in as simple terms as possible, because it seems they all think that Outlook = Cloud and that email = website and the the broadband is email (garrrghh!). An actual quote from an SMT member "if the internet goes down we'll still be able to access Office 365 because it's in the cloud (facepalm) - I can deal with this and hopefully get them to understand what exchange actually is and how this all differs including that if the internet fails then there will be no access to an email platform anyway.)

    Some background: I have neither installed or managed an exchange environment before. The schools I have worked in have always used hosted email of one type or another.

    I can (hopefully) resource the exchange server in our existing virtualised environment without too much difficulty so infrastructure cost would be negligible. Although I am worried about future mailbox growth in terms of storage. (I have about 3TB free and unallocated on the SAN)

    We have EES in place so I can get the exchange licenses / CAL's through that.

    On the other hand O365 = free (at the moment)

    150 Staff, 1000 Students - Secondary School.

    Any help or thoughts gratefully received.

    Thanks, Nick.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I wouldn't bother with an on-site Exchange Server - I'd stick with Office 365 on A2. I've done this for numerous schools in Birmingham. Let Microsoft do the managing/hosting for you, allowing you to manage users/devices day to day.

    Put it this way - even with all the problems with Zimbra 5/8, all the schools I've migrated to Office 365 have had zero problems as a result.

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    We choose to go down the 365 route as it was less local management of space to worry about.
    We have an ADSL backup that will provide a reasonable level of access in the event of our main fibre connection going down, added to the fact that the SMT have iPhones which can connect to 365 mail over 3g if both connections fail (not to mention that most staff seem to have a smart phone in this day and age)

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    Trojan (13th February 2014)

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
    I have neither installed or managed an exchange environment before. The schools I have worked in have always used hosted email of one type or another.
    Then go Office 365. I am just (as in, next week) migrating everyone away from an onsite Exchange 2007 server to Office 365.

    Four years of administering Exchange have convinced me that, more than anything else in IT, keeping email working is a dark art that requires sacrificial chickens and funny dances with bells on sticks. Spam filtering is either rubbish or costs more money, though it may be improved in 2013 (I hope to god it is, I just counted our spam quarantine and it's had 52,5000 emails in the last year, and that's only what it caught).

    Office 365 is free, is less complicated to set up and administer, works identically with regards to Outlook etc. and comes with other benefits - Student Advantage!

    Yes, if your net connection goes down you lose email - but equally, if a disaster strikes the school, webmail will still be up for everyone as it's hosted offsite.

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    Trojan (13th February 2014)

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    We have an onsite one, purely for the fact that it served our purpose better at the time, however I should note that we are not an educational establishment here.

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    Trojan (13th February 2014)

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    I weighed both up, and went for on-site. Our internet connection/filtering is not reliable enough to depend on anything through it, and we wanted to keep data on-site. It was also easier to sort out backup procedures etc with our own box.

    O365 is very appealing, but didn't suit us at the time. Migrating to it from Exchange is supposed to be pretty straightforward so we kept it as a future option.

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    woody's Avatar
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    Definitely O365 if you have the choice. We will be migrating to it hopefully over the summer. You will need to brush up on Powershell if you want to do anything beyond the WI that Microsoft give you.

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    Trojan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Put it this way - even with all the problems with Zimbra 5/8, all the schools I've migrated to Office 365 have had zero problems as a result.
    How many have you migrated if I may ask ?

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    Trojan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woody View Post
    Definitely O365 if you have the choice. We will be migrating to it hopefully over the summer. You will need to brush up on Powershell if you want to do anything beyond the WI that Microsoft give you.
    Hi, Can you elaborate on the Powershell requirements please? Thanks.

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    Basically as I understand it - (we haven't yet migrated and we will also need to learn powershell), with a local Exchange implementation, you have the choice of using the Exchange Management Console (UI) or Exchange Management Shell (Powershell).

    With O365, you don't get the full Exchange Management Console, you get a cut down basic web interface. Therefore, to access the more in-depth features of Exchange, you will need to use Powershell.

    As I said, this is on our list of things to learn, but someone else who is already using it may be able to elaborate.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Unless MS reversed the direction they began in Exchange 2007, on-site Exchange is also very Powershell heavy, and the GUI is limited in what it can do. You will need PowerShell one way or another, and in all honesty O365 has a more capable GUI than 2007. I don't know 2013 though.

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    On site here. Powershell is very powerful but so is the right click on the GUI. No idea why everyone gets carried away with command lines. Exchange 2010 with outlook which hasn't missed a beat in over 3 years and its very easy to manage.

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    Trojan (13th February 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
    How many have you migrated if I may ask ?
    Good question... I'll have to check, but it's more than 10 (top of my head).

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    Trojan's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments, lots of food for thought to say the least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Unless MS reversed the direction they began in Exchange 2007, on-site Exchange is also very Powershell heavy, and the GUI is limited in what it can do. You will need PowerShell one way or another, and in all honesty O365 has a more capable GUI than 2007. I don't know 2013 though.
    2013 is dominated by PS. It's not a terrible hardship, and you can do some cool things (like build your own GUI to run the PS commands which can be useful for bulk mail-enabling). It's not exactly web interface driven though.

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