Which Business Email is Best for You? Pros & Cons of Office 365 vs On-Premises Microsoft Exchange Server

Which Business Email is Best for You? Pros & Cons of Office 365 vs On-Premises Microsoft Exchange Server Decisions about technology are some of the most impactful for any size business. Should you host applications on your own server that you control, or should you go with cloud-based system? There is no one answer that is perfect for every business, because each one’s unique, but one thing all companies do have in common is the goal to use technology that enhances productivity and makes their business better. At Unity IT, we help businesses work faster and smarter by choosing the right technology and keeping it optimized. We work with both physical server virtualization services and cloud computing services, and we help businesses in the Fresno area decide which is the best option for their goals. When it comes to business applications, the email system you use is perhaps one of the most important, because that’s where your team spends a good portion of their day. Did you know? Workers spend about 28% of their day reading and answering email. (McKinsey Global Institute) Email is the second biggest consumer of time for the average worker, so optimizing the way you handle it can make a big impact on productivity improvement. Average workweek tasks and percentage of time spent on them include:
  • Role-specific tasks (39%)
  • Reading & answering email (28%)
  • Searching & gathering information (19%)
  • Communicating & collaborating internally (14%)
Microsoft is by far the most popular office suite used by companies of all sizes and they offer very distinct ways to handle email. The two options we’re looking at today are:
  1. Cloud-based Office 365
  2. On-premises Microsoft Exchange Server
Both applications can help to optimize the way you send and receive email, handle calendars, and more, but they both use a different approach. One is using your own server to host the application, and the other using a cloud-hosted solution. We’re going to take a look at the pros and cons for both Office 365 and an onsite Microsoft Exchange server, so you can get a better idea of the differences and which may be a better fit for your company workflow.

Office 365 vs Onsite Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft Exchange is the granddaddy of the two applications, initially being released in 1993. But it has definitely kept up with the times, with the latest version being released in 2016. Office 365 was first released in 2011 and brought the entire Microsoft line of office software into a collaborate cloud-based environment. It continues to gain momentum as cloud-based platforms grow in popularity. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Office 365 first.

Office 365 Pros & Cons

When you’re looking at Microsoft Exchange, you’ll see mention of “Exchange Online” which is the version that comes with Office 365 and is cloud based. Pros of using this cloud-based email application:
  • No physical server to purchase so initial start-up cost is less
  • Easy scalability, you can add a new user in minutes
  • Reduced risk of losing your data due to flood, fire, or natural disaster
  • Software is always up to date, the subscription includes all updates
  • Besides Exchange Online, you also get a full suite of other Microsoft cloud-based programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more)
  • Less oversight needed, and if something goes wrong, Microsoft will take care of it
Cons of using this cloud-based email application:
  • Less control of your email infrastructure, including configuring third-party solutions
  • If you cancel the monthly subscription, you lose use of the software
  • Migration of emails to Office 365 can be a hassle
  • Your data is stored in a Microsoft approved location, but you don’t know exactly where

On-Premises Microsoft Exchange Server

Pros of using your own server-hosted email:
  • You’re in complete control of your data because it’s stored on your server at your office
  • Easier integration of third-party programs that work with Microsoft Exchange
  • Supports the ability to wipe mobile devices in case they’re lost or stolen
  • If something goes wrong, you can troubleshoot immediately instead of waiting on Microsoft
  • Can cost less over time than the Office 365 subscription
  • Server performance is not reliant on the internet
Cons of using your own server-hosted email:
  • Hardware and maintenance are your responsibility
  • Larger initial cash outlay to purchase the associated server hardware and licenses
  • Your data could be lost in the event of a man-made or natural disaster at your premises
  • If you want to upgrade to a new version, you’ll need to purchase it

Which Email Option is Right for You?

Both an onsite server running Microsoft Exchange and the cloud-based Office 365 can get the job done and give you a robust office email solution. Which is right for you? Here are some observations from the Unity IT team that might help you narrow it down: Choose Office 365 if:
  • You like an out-of-the-box solution that takes as little time as possible to set up
  • You are all about team collaboration
  • You’d rather just pay a monthly fee and no big set up costs up front
  • You also want all the other cloud-based Microsoft Office programs
Choose an On-premises Microsoft Exchange Server if:
  • You like to have complete control of your data and server configuration
  • You like as few moving parts as possible and just want a solid email and calendar system
  • You’d rather buy a server up front and pay fewer overall costs over time
  • You want to use 3rd party programs to integrate with your email application

Need Some Expert Help Choosing the Most Productive Email Tool?

You don’t have to navigate the jungle of business IT applications alone! Unity IT can take the lead and give you all the details you need to make an informed decision… and the one that’s going to offer you the best value. Connect with us today at 559-297-1007 or online. We’re here to make your business better!