Microsoft Exchange Review

A reliable tool for archiving and organizing a large database

What is our primary use case?

We mostly used Exchange for sending emails and for document management. We also used Exchange to get information from a user's profile but we didn't use Exchange for filing.

    What is most valuable?

    Personally, I'd say Outlook is a good feature. We used it for scheduling appointments, for storage and archiving, so we could easily find old mail and documents, even ECF documents. A lot of people like using Outlook as a personal archive. 

    What needs improvement?

    When we started using Exchange on the cloud, we had a lot of initial problems relating to our main database and we also experienced issues with the accidental deletion of inboxes, amongst other things. In fact, many of the files we had moved to the cloud had disappeared. There also seems to be a problem with the retention of information. For example, if you delete something, you may have a problem restoring the entirety of the inbox, so if somebody leaves and you want to backup your data, you need to download it to your local servers. This is a big area for improvement. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Currently, we are using Office 365, but we used Exchange for more than 20 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    As I mentioned earlier, we have a very big database which can lead to some problems. Due to the algorithm, we tend to experience a lot of issues restoring and fixing problems. For example, we would have to retrieve all of the mail from our database and load it into a new database. We only had that problem in the beginning because of the algorithm, not because of Exchange. Now, we manage to serve almost 99% of the information. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We get our support through a third party. We have an Enterprise Agreement with Microsft but we don't receive customer service directly from them. Our third party company receives support from Microsoft, and when we have a problem, we deal with them; however, I've only used them once or twice. Other than that, my own systems engineer solves our problems.

     As we had more than 40 users, we had four or five people who handled maintenance.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was complex. When we set up Exchange on one server, it was very simple. Keep in mind, you need to be an expert to install the Exchange server because of all of the connections, the TLS-ing, connecting to the internet and ISP; it just wasn't simple at all. 

    Microsoft may tell you that deployment is as easy as " a click of the mouse", but this is not the case. 

    If done at the same time, deployment takes roughly five hours. After that, if we are migrating from an older version of Exchange to a newer version, it takes a very long time. In other words, migration takes much, much longer than the initial installation, which takes roughly four to five hours. When it's working, it's very stable; however, this was not the case 15 years ago, but in the last 10 years, it's been okay. When we experience a problem, it is strictly due to the algorithm. 

    What other advice do I have?

    It depends on what the user's needs are. A lot of people can now use Gmail or they can use Exchange on Office 365 with a license, there are a lot more options available nowadays. If you're thinking about installing Exchange on-premise, on behalf of a client, a lot of people have now moved to the cloud, to Azure or something similar. If a client asked me to purchase a 365 license, including the Exchange server, I might decline. If they want to hold meetings or something similar, I'd suggest that they use a professional service like Gmail for businesses. It's a much cheaper option because a lot of people that work with Microsoft office end up buying one or two 365 licenses which include Exchange, so they use it. 

    Because I have a lot of experience using Exchange, I would rate it between eight and nine out of ten. It's not a perfect ten, but for our purposes, it was perfect.  

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    **Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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