When it comes to discussions for potential e-mail solutions, many of our clients have shown profound interest in the cloud this past year. With the advancements of many SaaS providers in the messaging space, particularly with Exchange Online, it is easy to understand. Despite the perks of having e-mail services hosted in the cloud, the current adoption rate for messaging in the cloud is only at 4%, according to Gartner. However, these numbers are expected to shift to 55% by the year 2020, with the adoption rate slowly growing over time.
Aside from economics, there are many factors which have stalled a good number of our clients' adoption of cloud messaging. To illustrate these considerations, we have decided it would be best to review some of the additional considerations for Exchange Online.
One of the first things which should be viewed is bandwidth constraints. In order to use a traditional Outlook client to connect to Exchange online, cached mode in tandem with Outlook Anywhere must be leveraged. This is why Microsoft requires Outlook 2007 and above to connect to the cloud. So for environments not indenting to migrate to Exchange Online using the “hybrid model," these organizations could be in for a strong shock. The reasoning for this is as mailboxes are migrated to Exchange Online, bursts of bandwidth would be needed to download mail content in order to build OST files. To contrast this, when mailboxes are migrated within the “hybrid model”, mailboxes are copied and not moved. Because of this, the GUIDs are the same and there is no need to resynchronize their OST files.
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Additionally, as many companies have started to use VDI in their private clouds, the OST situation requirement takes on another form. Historically, many VMware administrators have been (improperly) conditioned to prevent OST file creation for space conservation reasons (UDD). For Exchange 2003 and 2007 environment, this could be a serious concern as such policies would have drastically inflated the I/O of the back end systems. But for Exchange Online, Outlook clients would need that additional space for OST files. Therefore storage planning would be needed with a VDI team to embrace for the swell of disk demands.
One alternative to alleviate the disk demands for a VDI deployment is to leverage Microsoft Office Web Apps as part of the Office 365 suite. In a nutshell, rather than loading the full Office client as part of the VDI gold image, VDI users would use their web browser to run the Office 2010 as a SaaS. However, such an application is not without costs. The current pricing for Office Professional Plus as a Web App is $12/user/month. So companies would need to weigh the traditional costs of CALs, along with the disk space for UDDs, to see that moving VDI users to this cloud offering is more cost effective.
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