E-Handbook:

What to do when it's time to upgrade email

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An Exchange upgrade isn't your only option for email

Running a business entails many things, but how many of those things are absolutely required? Other than a staff, which essential elements need to be in place? More than a building or a product or a coffee budget, a business needs email. The lowly email remains a form of oxygen for any endeavor, be it a startup or a global enterprise.

For most of the past few decades, an Exchange upgrade was how businesses kept that vital resource functioning. One iteration of Microsoft's Exchange Server was followed by another. Migration led to migration, and Outlook mailboxes sent and received the messages that got things done. For the most part, it worked just fine.

Options now exist that can make the obligatory Exchange upgrade a thing of the past. Realistic -- and appealing -- alternatives are part of the conversation more than ever before. These options have changed an IT team's analysis from when to shift to a new version of Exchange to whether to bother at all.

This handbook looks at Exchange -- the latest version of which appeared in late 2015 -- as well the other ways an organization can provide email services. Microsoft's Office 365 platform continues to gain momentum, offering a range of services while eliminating an organization's need to maintain on-premises Exchange. At the same time, Office 365 raises new concerns. Organizations will want to consider Office 365's implications on things like licensing and resiliency.

An organization that's unsure about another Exchange upgrade might even choose to look at email services outside of the Microsoft portfolio. There will certainly be pros and cons, as there always are, to whatever path is chosen. The essential thing is to keep the email flowing.