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Exchange Hosting FAQ
By: Rich Smith
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    Learn about Exchange Hosting, what it entails and if its right for your business. Our frequently asked questions addresses the most common thoughts people have when considering Exchange Hosting.

    What is Exchange? 
    Exchange is Microsoft’s entry into the email/groupware server space. It makes it easy for users to communicate and collaborate over the Internet and/or Intranet using a variety of clients on various desktop operating systems.

    What is Exchange Hosting?
    Exchange Hosting is available for customers who have a need for the features available from Microsoft Exchange, but do not have the facilities and/or expertise required to host the system themselves. By subscribing with an Exchange Host provider, the customer can take advantage of all of the benefits of Exchange, without the additional hassle that is involved in maintaining such a system.

    Who needs Exchange Hosting? 
    Organizations with a need for robust email and collaboration can benefit greatly by using for using the features of Microsoft Exchange within their business. Smaller companies that do not have the IT staff, or the facilities to create and maintain an Exchange network are perfect candidates for working with an Exchange host provider.

    Is there a need to have my own dedicated Exchange Server? 
    That would depend on the your particular usage of the server. Normally, an Exchange hosting provider will set up several Exchange accounts for several companies on the same box, similar to shared web hosting. Customers with higher volume requirements, or who wish to be segregated from the other customers can opt for a dedicated Exchange server. This is nominally more expensive than shared Exchange hosting, but does have its obvious advantages. A dedicated Exchange server is usually suggested for any Exchange hosting account that exceeds 100 users.

    What features are available to me when I use Exchange Hosting? 
    These features depend greatly on the hosting provider. Firstly, all of the functionality of Microsoft Outlook is immediately shared between your users. Calendars, Files, Folders, Tasks, Contact Lists, Address Books all become integrated and sharable among all users of Exchange. Advanced features such as Virus Scanning and Instant Message can normally be made available at an additional price.

    What requirements do I need to meet for Exchange Hosting? 
    In order to be a candidate for Exchange hosting, you need to have Internet connection(s) capable of supporting the required traffic, and the appropriate client software (Microsoft Outlook) and licenses for all users who will be using the services of the Exchange server.

    What type of Internet connection is needed to support hosted Exchange? 
    Your connection to the Internet is critical for any hosted Exchange service. The reason for this is that your collaboration client (Microsoft Outlook) connects and shares your information with the Exchange server, as well as retrieve updates in regards to all other users who also use the server. In essence, the more users your firm has using outlook, the more Internet bandwidth that is required to use it efficiently. One of the keys is the available upload bandwidth available. For example, many cable and telephone company DSL lines only offer 128K upload speeds. The chart below shows recommended line speeds.

    Network Requirements
      V. SmallSmallMedium Large
     Users1 to 51 to 1010 to 100100-1000
    Dial-up56kbpsMarginalNot OKNot OKNot OK
    Sym-DSL128kbpsOK MarginalNot OKNot OK
    Sym-DSL384kbpsOKOKNot OKNot OK
    Sym-DSL512kbpsOKOKMarginalNot OK
    T-11.5MbpsOKOKOKNot OK
    4 x T-16MbpsOKOKOKMarginal
    6 x T-19MbpsOKOKOKOk

    Can Exchange automatically scan for viruses? 
    Virus scanning is available for all messages running through Microsoft Exchange, as an add-on product. Due to the additional expense, most Exchange hosts will charge an additional fee for providing this service to the mailboxes on your account. Some anti-virus add-ons also have facilities for automatic SPAM recognition and filtering.

    Glossary of terms:

    Bandwidth - Bandwidth has a general meaning of how much information can be carried in a given time period (usually a second) over a wired or wireless communications link.

    Collaboration – The idea of employees working together in a joint intellectual effort. This is usually achieved by using tools that allows the employees to share information dynamically between one another to boost performance and productivity.

    DSL - DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines.

    Groupware - Groupware refers to programs that help people work together collectively while located remotely from each other. Groupware services can include the sharing of calendars, collective writing, e-mail handling, shared database access, electronic meetings with each person able to see and display information to others, and other activities.

    SPAM - Spam is unsolicited e-mail on the Internet. From the sender's point-of-view, it's a form of bulk mail, often to a list culled from subscribers to a Usenet discussion group or obtained by companies that specialize in creating e-mail distribution lists. To the receiver, it usually seems like junk e-mail. In general, it's not considered good netiquette to send Spam. It's generally equivalent to unsolicited phone marketing calls except that the user pays for part of the message since everyone shares the cost of maintaining the Internet.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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