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Hosting Exchange: Making sense of the dollars and cents

Out expert offers up some cost analysis when moving Exchange to the cloud.

The hosting company Apptix has a total cost of ownership calculator that compares the expenses of owning your own Exchange Server with those of subscribing to its services. While the old rule stands -- never trust someone else’s return-on-investment calculations, the company’s numbers may surprise you.

In Apptix’s research, a three-year subscription to hosted Exchange services for 20 users costs $10,044; the cost of running Exchange in-house for the same number of users runs about $128,316. Even if the calculated ROI is off by only a few dozen percent, the disparity between those amounts is huge.

Apptix isn’t the only option available. Google and Microsoft have similar-looking products. That said, hosted Exchange services vary greatly in terms of what’s offered and the ultimate cost. Apptix’s $279-per-month charge for 20 users includes Exchange services and BlackBerry Enterprise Server synchronization.

Compare this to Google, which technically doesn’t use Exchange as its server software but has a seemingly comparable Outlook experience. At $50 per user per year, Google’s services cost less and offer more storage space, but you have to deal with a more complex administrative interface -- and you won’t have “real” Exchange as the back end.

For many companies, hosted Exchange Server eliminates the need to manage services -- a desirable feature. Since it’s complex to set up and even harder to make resilient, offloading Exchange technical support to others makes good business sense when you don’t have the expertise in-house. But you may still encounter difficulties building and maintaining document collaboration services such as Microsoft SharePoint. Many hosting providers will bundle such services in with messaging packages, which is also something to consider.

Greg Shields,
MVP, is a partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology. An IT industry analyst, author, speaker and trainer, you can find Greg at

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