By Gail Seymour
In the business world, access to email is imperative. For those working in an office, standard POP3 email services are generally sufficient. For those on the road, however, or in key positions, the added functionality of Microsoft's Exchange Server means they can stay in contact with the office in real time.
Benefits of Exchange Server
- With POP3, once email is downloaded from the server it is removed, making it unavailable to other connecting devices. Even if a copy is stored on the server, multiple devices can only access the Inbox, and not sub folders. With Exchange, email can be stored and sorted, and yet still available to multiple devices.
- Email templates can be created and stored in public folders, giving access to multiple users whilst saving storage space. If these templates contain important information that needs to be updated, a single file can be altered to effect the change, keeping all users informed. In this way, a change to a customer service contact number, for example, can be deployed instantaneously.
- Because data is stored on the server, in the event of data loss due to computer crashes or device failure, this data can be retrieved by configuring a new computer or device with the user's details.
- Full centralization of data means mobile devices do not have to be synchronized with a user's PC. Not just email, but changes to contacts and calendars are available on mobile devices in real time, and changes made on the mobile device will also be reflected on the PC.
- Sharing of information goes beyond a user's own devices too. Co-workers can check each other's calendars, manage the availability of resources, and schedule meetings. They can also share and work collaboratively on documents from remote locations.
Problems with Exchange Server
In the past the problem for small businesses with Exchange Server has been cost. Unlike standard POP3 email services, which offer high-volume email accounts for no additional cost, Microsoft Exchange is charged per user, or per email account. While the cost is minimal for a fully utilized account, and probably pays for itself many times over in time savings, most users will not need this additional functionality.
When you send an email, the request goes to an SMTP server, which then checks for a matching MX record for that domain. Since Microsoft Exchange Server and standard mailer daemon programs would not run on the same domain, that meant businesses had to choose between paying the extra cost for Exchange services for all users, thereby pushing up the cost, or using a secondary domain for those users who did not need Exchange.
Fortunately, new hybrid Exchange servers use routing technology to enable both standard and Exchange email platforms to function on the same domain name. That means small businesses with a few key workers who would benefit from Exchange's additional functionality can now enable it for only those who need it, and provide standard POP3 email access for the remaining workforce.
About the Author
Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than ten years. During that time she has won three Sitesell design awards, and has provided the content and copy for dozens of Web sites and more than 50,000 Web pages.