- Cloud Essentials
- Software as a Service
- Accounting / Financial
- Asset Management
- Business Intelligence
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- IT / Application Management
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How to choose the best hosted Exchange service for you
There are a variety of different companies offering hosted Exchange in the cloud - which is the best for you?
Cobweb - Winner
Service: Hosted Exchange 2010
Price: £3.29 per user per month (36 month contract), £4.29 per user per month (12 month contract)
Ease of use: 5
Value for money: 6
Cobweb provides a range of e-mail solutions from basic mailboxes through to dedicated Exchange servers and also a Small Business Suite. We tested their Hosted Exchange 2010 system and were impressed by the layout of their Control Panel which allowed us to easily navigate through the large set of configurable options. As the Cobweb platform can include additional services such as SharePoint and Office Communications Server, users are created at the service level. At the time of creation you can assign the user to services or you can do this later. We found the process of creating users and mailboxes quick and painless.
Each mailbox in the Control Panel has a set of links to help start users off. For Outlook Web App (OWA) the link connects to the logon page and for Outlook and ActiveSync clicking on the link will display the appropriate help document. These help pages are even populated with the appropriate information for the specific mailbox which is a nice touch. Outlook configuration was simple thanks to Autodiscover being set up, allowing us to quickly access the large 25GB mailbox and OWA and ActiveSync presented no problems. Windows, Android and iPhone mobile users are all catered for and a BlackBerry Enterprise service is also available at £6.99 per user per month.
When adding domains there are a number of options including registering a new domain and transferring an existing one. We used the option to leave our domain with its current registrar and manage our own DNS settings, requiring us to add MX, SPF and Autodiscover records. After waiting a while for the DNS records to replicate we still couldn’t add a mailbox using that domain, but Cobweb’s support soon resolved the issue for us.
Support documentation is available through the links within the Control Panel and also in the form of a Knowledgebase. Although the overall quality and way the documents are organised could be improved a little, we did find most of the information we needed. If further support is required, then calls can be logged by an online form or by phone. Antivirus and anti-spam protection is provided by Symantec.
At only £1 per user per month, the add-on service Customer Director Integration (CDI) is definitely worth considering. This will provision and maintain users from an on-premises Active Directory (AD) database and will even automatically create mailboxes for these users. Installing and configuring the service was relatively simple and in no time Cobweb mailboxes were created from our AD users. Passwords synchronise for each user after the next password change and we found that this worked equally well.
When discussing with Cobweb the available options for migrating mailboxes from an existing Exchange server, it was clear that they recognise that one solution doesn’t fit all. Although there’s an additional charge for their migration service, accessing the knowledge of staff that have run the process many times may well be worth the extra cost.
Cobweb provide a great user interface to help make an Exchange administrator’s life easier. Combine this with a long list of features and a great price and it’s not hard to see why they scored so highly in our review.