You’ve made the decision that you want to run your own email server at your office so you can have complete control over the solution! Which one do you pick?
This discussion is very similar to the discussion we had last week regarding Security Devices (see How Do I Pick The Best Security Firewall and Associated Security Devices For My Business?). If you get a number of email and messaging experts in a room and ask them which package you should go with you’ll likely get as many opinions as there are people in the room.
Here are a number of questions to ask about any e-mail server you want to consider :
#1 : Cost Of Licensing (including ongoing renewals)
Some email server charge a flat rate based on the number of users and that’s it. Some will charge a certain amount for the core server software itself and then so much per user after that.
Most packages out there as well will have some sort of renewal that is paid either every year or perhaps every 2 years if you want to stay up to date with the latest versions at your leisure.
Just make sure you have all the costs laid out in front of you … maybe even consider laying out all license and renewal costs over a 5 yr period so you are comparing “apples to apples”.
#2 : Calendar and Contact Sharing and Collaboration
Beyond just simple sending and receiving of emails does the server in question give you the ability to share calendars within a team environment as well as perhaps a shared corporate calendar that everyone can see?
Do you have the ability to have separate private contacts for each person but also perhaps have a corporate contact list that everyone can see with key vendors and customers listed?
#3 : Enhancement ability with the use of Plugins
For things like security (anti-virus and malware scanning) or archiving or other extra functionalit, does the server you are considering play well with other packages that take care of these secondary functions? Or perhaps does the same company that makes the mail server also make these other package.
#4 : Ease of Use with Mobile Devices
Does the email server allow for easy syncing and use with mobile devices for people on the move such that work and email they do on the road is reflected when they get back in the office?
#5 : Easy Access to Mail Logs for Forensics
Are there good records kept of all email coming both in and out of your systems for both audit and potential forensic use?
#6 : Cost and Availability of Support
Is there an easy support channel you can call on if you run into issues so you can get you questions answered in a reasonably quick fashion? Is the cost of this support included in the price of the software or is there an extra fee attached?
#7 : Cost of Hardware
Will your existing hardware at the office be capable of running this server or will you need to purchase additional hardware?
#8 : Cost and Availability of Ongoing Administration
Do you have the resources to handle the day to day administration of this server yourself internally, with maybe a little training, or will you need to rely on an external resource to help you each time?
There are many questions that you need to ask yourself when picking a system as critical to your operation as this. You might find one package that has all the functionality you need but cost of licensing and renewals is through the roof?
You might find another package that has all the functionality you need but you’ll need to purchase additional hardware to make it happen?
You might find yet another package that is reasonably priced and doesn’t require any extra hardware but you don’t have anyone who knows how to run or administer it and extra help will need to be brought in?
All these points need to be considered …