Cloud Computing : Email via Microsoft BPOS
This month my company began switching over user email accounts to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. BPOS for short. Like most organizations, email is probably the most critical application in the environment. Users know almost immediately when mail is not working. Working in a small company with many consultants and no dedicated fulltime IT person, outsourcing the maintenance and management of the Exchange infrastructure to Microsoft made a lot of sense for us.
The migration itself was pretty painless. Some prep work upfront to save things like Signatures, Rules and Nicknames (NK2) files and I was set to be migrated. The process seemed to be almost push button. Initiate the migration process and my mail was being copied up to the cloud. Of course, there was plenty of work configuring access, MX records and other infrastructure type stuff but luckily someone else did that. For me, it was an extremely easy move up to the cloud.
Once the migration was complete, (I could have wiped out my deleted items to speed it up a bit), all that was left was to install the Microsoft Single Sign-On tool and reconfigure my iPhone for access. The sign-on tool took care of reconfiguring my local Outlook for me.
The immediate benefit, aside from a more reliable infrastructure, is access to all the latest features and integrations that Microsoft Online has to offer. Running our own exchange server, we never got around to installing Office Communications or any Live Meeting add ins. My new cloud mail though is all set up for that. Presence awareness and Instant meetings via Live Meeting are great! I’m sure that once Exchange 2010 is available, it will be a push button upgrade for us. This alone made the switch worth it.
The addition of Lync (Office Communicator’s new name) is great. Right from within an email message, I can see who is online at the time and if they are available for a quick chat. Hopefully this cuts back on the 1 line emails that can clog up an inbox Zero plan.
I think the move to the BPOS cloud was a great step for our company and am very pleased with the user experience.