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Exchange and SharePoint Services

Emails, diaries and intranets are easy with these services from Microsoft

What is Microsoft Exchange?

Microsoft Exchange is a program that handles email, diaries and addresses for businesses. Its benefits include:

Mobility. Access email via PocketPCs, Smartphones and other mobile devices. Pick up your email from home, a client site or anywhere with an internet connection.

Security. Built-in spam protection and easy backup and archiving of business information.

Efficiency. The ability to share diaries, address details and other business information.

I already have email, so why do I need this?

Many businesses rely on basic POP3 email accounts from their internet service provider or even web mail. These are not usually ideal for business use:

No backup and limited spam and virus protection - you run the risk of losing email because it is not stored and backed up properly.

You can't share your diary easily with colleagues

They're often less secure and reliable than business-class email systems

Limited features, for example no support for collaboration

Less flexible access to your email via your mobile phone or PDA

Some users who have made the switch say: "It amazes people who haven't seen it before - it is way beyond what POP3 email could ever offer."

What is 'hosting'?

Quote�Many companies run Exchange Server on dedicated server computers on their own premises.�End Quote

Many companies run Exchange Server on dedicated server computers on their own premises. And in many cases, this is the best option. However, thanks to new Microsoft technology, it is possible to outsource this to specialist hosting companies, just like you might let someone host your website for you.

This can reduce the cost, risk, complexity and support burden associated with an in-house system. It is also quicker to set up than an in-house system and can reduce your up-front costs.

However, there are advantages to having an in-house system too: if you work with a reliable IT consultant (like a Microsoft Small Business Specialist) they may be able to help you with in-house setup and support.

Why choose hosted Exchange?

There are several reasons why you might chose a hosted solution over an in-house email system:

No upfront capital or licensing costs. Just a predictable per-user, monthly fee which can be as low as �6.50. Admittedly, you can pay for an in-house system in instalments, but this way there are no surprises.

Reduced maintenance and support. Your staff can concentrate on your business, not on routine admin and maintenance of your IT systems.

Easy set up. Most providers will let you register for the service online and once set up you can add users using a simple online control panel.

The costs match your requirements. Adding staff? Add more users when you need them. Scaling back? Remove users and functionality as necessary and pay only for what you use.

Reliability. Expect service level agreements and 24/7 IT support.

What is hosted SharePoint Server and how can it help my business?

Just as you can outsource Microsoft Exchange Server, it is also possible to get Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services as a hosted service. This allows you and your colleagues to work more effectively by storing business information in a secure, private intranet website that is accessible anywhere.

SharePoint is useful for:

Project management

Team collaboration

Centralised document management

Customer relationship management

Sharing things like employee handbooks, policies, holiday diaries and phone directories

Microsoft does not sell hosted Exchange or SharePoint itself. Instead, they are available through a number of different providers - for instance, BT or Pipex. They may provide different combinations of features and price but they all use Microsoft's advanced server software.

What next?

Read about companies that have switched to hosted Exchange Server or SharePoint Services

Sometimes it's difficult to decide whether to do things in-house, or to outsource. Read about the pros and cons of each option.

You can get free email management tips and training with Microsoft Small Business+. Sign up now to try it out.

Sign into Microsoft Small Business+ for free web-based training and software support.

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How to buy

If you've decided that hosted services are right for you, or just want information about a specific solution, contact one of these suppliers for more information:

- BT

- Cobweb

- Webfusion

Security information

Find a local Microsoft Small Business Specialist to help with your IT needs

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