Microsoft is attempting to compete with Google Apps for Business with its new Exchange Server 2010, part of its unified communications strategy. The Google Apps allure is certainly a low cost of entry, well known ease of use, collaboration tools and Postini email archiving.
As a disclosure, I use Google Apps for Business myself, and am quite satisfied with the functionality. My only wish list item for now is for Google to integrate Google Voice, which I covered in a recent article.
The new Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 has some compelling features for advisory practices to consider as an email solution. These include enhanced email archiving, message retention and search functions.
While in the past - if your business did not choose to host your own Exchange server - you could not fully capitalize on Exchange email features - Microsoft is changing that. Now, with Exchange 2010, the solution can be outsourced and purchased on a user basis - meaning shops as small as four or five on a team can leverage the new functionality.
Key Features include:
Additionally, Microsoft is introducing Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange - their first attempt to provide security against malware and spam natively. They made a similar change with Windows 7 - providing a base security suite to protect a PC at no cost.
There is certainly no need to leave Google Apps and move to Exchange 2010 - as Microsoft is just now catching up with Google on features and functionality. However, if you currently are looking at solutions for email hosting at your practice, add Exchange Server 2010 to the list of candidates to be considered.
If you plan to review this solution - certainly take the 30-day trial of the online hosted Exchange and Google Apps - this will give you a sense for the performance you will get. It will also enable you to get a feel for both vendors capabilities on multiple web browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer) and from multiple locations (home, office, travel). If you run your business on Macs (my primary platform though I also run Windows) then I would point you to Google Apps. Microsoft solutions will be optimized for Internet Explorer, though they should work in other browsers.