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East Midlands Broadband Consortium (EMBC) Thread, Advantages/Disadvantages of own Exchange Server in Regional Broadband Consortiums (RBC); As a 1000 user secondary school who already hosts its own website and VLE we are considering bringing email - ...
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    Advantages/Disadvantages of own Exchange Server

    As a 1000 user secondary school who already hosts its own website and VLE we are considering bringing email - which is currently hosted by EMBC - in house. We would appreciate fellow 'Geeks' comments on the advantages and disadvantages of doing this and any particular pitfalls we could fall into!

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    You'll be sitting behind emf so you'll benefit from the pretty good filtering that does/did do so that's a good thing (tm).

    If the majority of your mail is internal between people then you will save on internet bandwidth as it won't leave the site.

    It would be worth considering the bandwidth implications of people accessing it from home as to whether your internet line is OK to handle that (but if you're hosting your own website I would say yes).

    All in all to me it would be a good thing, hosting your own mail/vle/site you can bring in simplified sign on amongst other nice things and integrate etc.

    Downsides I suppose, you're responsible for backing it up wheres at the moment you can blame EMBC for that; and you're also responsible for the uptime and general look after of the system, something else you can fob off on EMBC for the moment.

    That said, on balance I'd host internally simply because in my days we had nothing but problems with EMBC and whilst I'm sure it's improved by now we were looking to self host before I left the school.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Locally-hosted exchange is perfectly doable ... mail is routed in and out via EMF so you don't need to fiddle around changing MX record, just the server mail is directed to by EMF. You still get filter on inbound and outbound mail traffic, you still have access to control your own rules (there are some global ones to help catch spam and unsuitable words) on traffic in and out. This also includes things like virus scanning of course.

    The down side of this is that you will not get user to user filtering unless you get fun and funky with Exchange ... perfectly possible and there are some products out there to help, but when I last looked they tended to be a tad expensive. There are things you can do within exchange to build rules to do this but *you* have to sit down and work out what you want and how to do it ... (which you would get plenty of advice from folk here). There are arguments for and against excessive filtering in email ... it can be used as a handy tool to spot bullying before it happens but schools don't often put the time or resources into analysing this so it usually gets reactive (ie tracking things down *after* an incident has happened), but that might be the case already for you. Others worry that excessive filtering on email only pushed the bullying into different places instead (eg facebook, txt, school bus on the way home, etc). The decision around this aspect really should be taken in conjunction with those dealing with the pastoral side of things within school.

    The mailboxes / accounts would be tied in with *your* AD now, and you decide the size, the archive pattern, have more backups to do, have another service to work out whether you make accessible outside of school and to whom.

    The downside (form talking with some of our schools) is that because the school does not have a large reason to enforce students in the use of their embc account ("don't share your account ... others can get into your email if you do!") then you get more kids sharing the logins they need to make sure they have the right filtering levels. It may be that as a school you are considering running in house filtering ... but this is just avoiding the issue of whether you have it set up right in the first place. You will have to work harder to make sure everyone uses the filtering more appropriately, and also to ensure you have something covering your back to make sure manglement are aware of, and happy with, how the filtering is set up, maintained and who is accountable for it.

    I am not intentionally trying to put you off doing it, we have a number of schools here running it fine, but make sure you have considered the question of "what doesn't worked in the hosted solution (that isn't a fault and therefore fixable) that would work better with a local solution?"

    Consider the difference in time to manage it compared to the hosted solution, which may mean that you sit down and look at how frequently you update user accounts, set up or change distribution lists, release emails (which you would still have to do via EMF anyway) and then look at the same for the local solution (in discussions with other schools) but also consider the patch management, backup and restore (if you are doing it locally then you will get more requests), the time to implement, the additional training, server, license, power, rack and cooling costs ...

    And yes ... I know ... not a lot of answers and a heap more questions ... but at least it will give you a better answer in the long run.

  4. Thanks to GrumbleDook from:

    Bezwick (1st February 2010)

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    m25man's Avatar
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    What about the Live@edu Hosted Solution?
    I see that some here have gone down this route - I'm looking at it for some potential locations but more feedback from early adopters would be useful.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    London Grid for Learning have gone with the live@edu approach i believe. Sounds like a great idea.
    Check this link from a very thought provoking seminar at BETT by Ray Fleming :

    Microsoft UK Schools : Top 10 ICT Money Saving Tips ? 9 ? Stop your email servers

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    London Grid for Learning have gone with the live@edu approach i believe. Sounds like a great idea.
    Check this link from a very thought provoking seminar at BETT by Ray Fleming :

    Microsoft UK Schools : Top 10 ICT Money Saving Tips ? 9 ? Stop your email servers
    We're also following Microsoft's advice and switching to googlemail, really easy to do and so far early adopters are really happy.
    Google Apps for Education - Free email and apps for schools.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    We're also following Microsoft's advice and switching to googlemail, really easy to do and so far early adopters are really happy.
    Google Apps for Education - Free email and apps for schools.
    How is that Microsoft's advice ?!? or do you mean just to outsource?

    I like googlemail but not the apps, the office apps weren't great in my opinion, but i only did a tiny test. From the feedback i saw they weren't really developing it or ironing out the faults.

    I thought live@edu and related systems were a direct competition to googleapps. I'd prefer the online office they were offering.

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    We're moving to GoogleApps in the summer for all staff & students. We currently host our own email which is filtered via webroot but we just can't afford to offer the storage & flexibility that google offers. We have signed up and they offer each account 7.5Gb's of email storage so for the 2000 users we have that we'd need a huge SAN just for email.

    We have had to do some work to get google's LDAP sync tool to work but it is now reading everything including MD5 passwords so the plan is to start a small scale trial with SMT/SLT to see how they get one. Why SMT/SLT first ?? if they can't break it neither will students :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    How is that Microsoft's advice ?!? or do you mean just to outsource?
    We'll they gave plenty of reasons why running exchange inhouse was too costly (some of us zimbra users had been saying so for years!)

    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I like googlemail but not the apps, the office apps weren't great in my opinion, but i only did a tiny test. From the feedback i saw they weren't really developing it or ironing out the faults.
    .

    They seem to be constantly adding new features, we've noticed several changes since we've been trialling:

    Google Docs

    Theres also loads of 'labs' addons that google and others have developed. Also really good mobile and cross platform support - I simply don't trust MS to be able to do that properly.


    Quote Originally Posted by clodhopper View Post
    We're moving to GoogleApps in the summer for all staff & students. We currently host our own email which is filtered via webroot but we just can't afford to offer the storage & flexibility that google offers. We have signed up and they offer each account 7.5Gb's of email storage so for the 2000 users we have that we'd need a huge SAN just for email.
    We are almost in the same situation, we offer students 1GB of space and google just offered a 7 fold increase! (only 1GB for non google apps type docs though!). Other features such as google video mean we have our own youtube service!.
    We are putting this live in June, the school slows down a bit after 6thform and yr11 leave. Better that than mad rush in September IMO, gives staff a term and summer to get used to the idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m25man View Post
    What about the Live@edu Hosted Solution?
    I see that some here have gone down this route - I'm looking at it for some potential locations but more feedback from early adopters would be useful.
    Happy to give feedback on any specific issues for you, (we didn't choose google for 3 main reasons - complete lack of clear privacy policy, couldn't get them to talk to us at all, and lastly horrendous reliability of the service - this was last year when their service seems to be falling over all the time - bonus downside - look at the problems Virgin Media are having with them transferring over their existing userbase at the moment!)

    It's also worth considering MS BPOS (the non free version of hosted exchange), that has very good academic pricing.

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