Still Hosting Email On-Premises? 5 Reasons to Prioritize Migrating Email To The Cloud

Running email in-house used to be the thing to do. Back when Nickelback was popular, so too was powering email on-premises. But tastes and best practices change. Maintaining an email server onsite is now about as trendy as compact discs, which is to say not very. 

The rise and popularity of Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS) brought an affordable email services platform within reach of small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs). Beginning in the late 1990s, SBS provided even smaller companies with reasonably priced access to an email and calendaring solution that could be installed, administered and maintained onsite. Over time, however, multiple factors converged to rob SBS of its swagger. For a variety of compelling reasons, Microsoft 365 Hosted Exchange (for which several subscription plans are available) has rightfully become the dominant standard. 

Whether your organization already migrated email to the cloud or still runs email services in-house, here are five reasons migrating email and calendaring services to Microsoft 365 Exchange is now the best bet for SMBs. 

1. Improved Security

Perhaps the most important advantage Microsoft 365 Exchange services offer SMBs is greater security. Inviting public Internet traffic directly into your company’s network, a necessary step when powering email services in-house, is no longer a prudent risk. In fact, the rise of ransomware, advanced malware attacks and other cybersecurity vulnerabilities have businesses moving aggressively in the opposite direction. The fewer open ports and less inbound public traffic the better. 

 Microsoft 365 Hosted Exchange includes several integrated protections to assist SMBs in guarding against email-related threats. In addition to maintaining a tightly patched and highly disciplined operating environment, the cloud-based option boasts capable spam filtering and advanced malware protection. Microsoft 365 Hosted Exchange subscriptions also support setting up and enforcing password policies, multifactor authentication, security groups and custom permissions. Other optional features include enterprise-grade endpoint security defenses for a variety of devices, advanced phishing safeguards, Information Rights Management capabilities that provide persistent protection for email messages and attachments both online and offline and conditional access policies. 

2. Higher Reliability

Microsoft is an absolute behemoth. The company employs almost a quarter-of-a-million employees, operates a multitude of data centers and maintains redundant support systems throughout the world. No SMB can remotely match the knowledge, expertise, resources, availability, capacity, scalability and reliability the company offers. With 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime, supported by a financially backed service level agreement should issues arise, Microsoft 365 Hosted Exchange operates with only rare interruptions. 

If you do the math, you’ll discover services offering 99.9 percent uptime permit less than nine hours of total downtime a year. Matching such reliability is a tall and reasonably unrealistic goal for SMBs. 


The Microsoft Exchange email and calendaring platform runs on top of a Windows Server operating system. Both Windows servers and the Exchange software require updating throughout the year. Often it proves necessary to take servers offline just to maintain proper best practices patching and update the servers upon which the email and calendaring solution runs. 

 Throughout a given year, those maintenance windows exceed the Microsoft’s hosted downtime thresholds when performed within most any SMB. And, those planned outages are in addition to any other Internet, data circuit, hardware, power and other potential issues that commonly arise to take SMB networks and systems offline. 

3. Lower Costs

Just as trying to match Microsoft’s email services uptime is a losing proposition so, too, is trying to reduce an organization’s expenses by licensing, deploying, administering, updating, securing, troubleshooting and maintaining Microsoft Exchange (or another) email platform in-house. SMBs especially benefit from cost efficiencies when migrating email services to the cloud. 

The temptation when deploying on-premises systems is to keep the corresponding hardware, software and licensing in place for extended periods in attempt to reduce total expenses. Accountants typically amortize computer hardware and software around every five years, of course, which tends to match expected hardware lifespans. One repercussion that results when organizations deploy systems in-house is they typically find themselves having to replace everything and perform complex migrations every four to six years, anyway. 

It just makes more financial sense, especially over time, to migrate email services to the cloud, The step is key in eliminating the undulating and potentially disruptive peaks and valleys that accompany technology spending when failing to regularly replace a fraction of a company’s systems, software and equipment annually. Subsequently, budgeting becomes easier, too. 

Other cost savings result, as well. SMBs no longer need to power or cool the accompanying servers. Those expenses, too, add up and are eliminated when outsourcing email to Microsoft Hosted Exchange. 

4. Greater Scalability

Most organizations routinely add and remove users throughout the year. Managing such adjustments is easier when the email licenses, accounts and services are configured via a capable and centralized online portal. Any authorized administrator can log in to Microsoft’s hosted Exchange management console and quickly complete configuring such adjustments while maintaining all of an organization’s Microsoft 365 licensing, apps and services within a single portal. 

The same case doesn’t always prove true when managing email and user accounts on-premises. Instead, licenses may need to be purchased from an outside vendor, a process that can introduce delays and complicate tracking active licenses and the status of individual user accounts. 

Further, adding new sites, acquiring another firm, meeting periodic surges in demand, matching seasonal needs and otherwise accommodating changes and growth often result in SMBs surpassing capacities, stressing existing servers and networks and potentially needing to add additional servers, software and licenses—including purchasing Windows operating system and Microsoft Exchange software and licenses, Windows server Client Access Licenses (CALs) and corresponding email platform CALs—and additional server chassis, network switches and even bandwidth (further increasing the SMB’s administration, monitoring and maintenance burdens), whereas with cloud-based services scalability is much more easily managed and administered, as all those burdens are transferred to Microsoft, instead. 

5. Simplified Administration

When an organization’s email and calendaring services are powered by the cloud, the corresponding hardware, software, license purchasing and tracking, server administration, cybersecurity demands, systems maintenance and other associated responsibilities all fall by the wayside. Microsoft, the hosting provider, assumes those burdens. 

Because offloading email services to the cloud also offloads the accompanying management and administration burdens, SMBs no longer must dedicate resources to patching, updating, maintaining and troubleshooting the corresponding networks, hardware and software. Commensurately, SMBs require fewer IT professionals to manage, monitor and maintain daily operations. With in-house technology staff or administrative personnel freed to shift their focus, existing resources and personnel can turn their capacities and attention to higher value activities and initiatives more closely tied to the organization’s core business and mission. 

 Another advantage is complying with regulatory and industry email security and retention requirements becomes easier and organizations run less risks they’ll fail corresponding audits. When migrating to hosted Exchange services, SMBs no longer need to schedule and invest time and resources auditing and monitoring backend compliance requirements. In-Placing Archiving, Litigation Holds, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), deleted and inactive mailbox preservation, Messaging Records Management (MRM), Information Rights Management (IRM), Message Encryption and Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) signing and encryption and auditing reports are just a few of the features that assist SMBs in complying with various messaging and data requirements and documenting their compliance. 

Don’t Make the Switch Just to be Trendy

Don’t migrate to Microsoft 365 Hosted Exchange email and calendaring only because that’s what other firms are doing. Explore migrating these services, if you’re still managing an email server in-house, because of the benefits migrating to the cloud provides. 

 If you or your organization have questions regarding how best to address email and calendaring needs, or if you’re struggling to determine the best cloud-based migration path, call or email Louisville Geek. You can call Louisville Geek at 502-897-7577 or email [email protected]. 

 Should you find yourself still needing to maintain an on-premises email server in the interim, we can help with that, too. Drop Louisville Geek a line to learn why SMBs have long entrusted the technology consulting firm to help manage email services and support.