With XP having recently been deprecated to an unsupported state, this has drawn our attention to the fact that other platforms of a similar vintage are due to go the way of XP within 12 months. In particular Server 2003 and Exchange 2003 platforms including the Small Business Server 2003 system is also due to become unsupported as of July 2015.
With this in mind, it makes sense for businesses to be considering, well in advance, the options for replacement of these systems should they still be in production.
I am always the first to critique progress for progress' sake, but I can see genuine advantages to the risk reduction, reliability improvements and cost benefits that can be realized by this new hybridized server model. The world is indeed changing and at quite a rate, but from my point of view this is to the benefit of all concerned and Bluefrontier's intention is to be at the leading edge of this change in supporting businesses to adapt to the new environment and make the most of these changes.
The last iteration of the combined Email and file server system; Small Business Server 2011, is now unavailable for purchase and Microsoft, along with the rest of the industry, is pushing its customers towards hosted services in preference to onsite servers.
Over the past year or so Bluefrontier have had a lot of involvement, with clients new and old, by way of replacing 2003 server platforms with later iterations, be it SBS 2011 or Server 2012 and Hosted Exchange.
For larger businesses it may still make sense to purchase a suitable server for onsite deployment along with all of the licensing costs that this includes. However, for smaller businesses this sort of capital outlay is often untenable and Microsoft have made ample allowance for small businesses with their Office 365 hosted email platform and Server 2012 series of server software.
Server 2012 comes in several flavours from a restricted, but highly cost effective, 25 user Essentials version through to the Datacenter and Enterprise versions allowing for multiple virtual instances under once license cost.
Our experience speaking to customers has shown us that the most popular combination for our clients with less than 25 users is to opt for the Server Essentials software, paired with the popular, and reliable "Office 365" Hosted Exchange offering. What makes this so attractive is a highly competitive pricing structure combined with a subscription model that moves cost from a capital basis to an operational one, removing the need for irregular large spends.
The "Office 365 Small Business Premium" offering from Microsoft has proved particularly popular, providing users with a month per user cost, all of the features of an in-house Exchange server and the ability to install the full Office package on up to 5 devices per user making it ideal for remote workers, office workers while keeping you fully up to date with the latest version of Exchange and Office. All of these benefits can be realized alongside the significant reduction in risk with your email data and services being held offsite in secure, highly reliable, highly available datacenters thereby removing a single point of failure for your business and removing the headaches of maintaining, servicing and backing up your email server.