Comparing Exchange 2019 On-Premises with Exchange Online

Designed by Microsoft as a mail and “calendaring” server, Exchange runs exclusively on Windows Servers operating systems, the first version being called Exchange Server 4.0 as to position it as the successor to the (unrelated) Microsoft Mail 3.5. Without attempting to get way too technical, Exchange, at its heart, primarily uses a proprietary protocol dubbed MAPI to talk to email clients, with Microsoft having later added support for POP3, IMAP and EAS; the standard SMTP protocol is used to communicate to other internet mail servers.

Here’s what’s important, though, about Exchange: It is licensed as both an on-premises software and software as a service (SaaS) solution – in the on-premises variant, customers purchase client access licenses (CALs), while in SaaS form, Microsoft charges a monthly service fee instead. The current version, Exchange 2019, was released in October 2018, with two of the key features being deployment onto Windows Server Core and support for running up to 48 processor cores plus 256 gigabytes of RAM.

Here, we’re going to take a closer look at the differences between Exchange 2019 on-premises and Exchange 2019 Online (i.e. in the Cloud), a topic sparked by some recent input from business owners who have suggested it is no longer financially viable to keep an onsite hosted Exchange server (due to hardware requirements).

What are the Differences, Essentially?

Think of Microsoft Exchange Online as an email server that is hosted and maintained in the Cloud. When it comes to functionality and accessibility, there is really no big difference between a traditional on-premises Exchange server and Exchange Online; the differences come into focus when talking about cost, reliability and maintenance, mostly.

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, we have recently become aware of businesses finding it no longer financially viable to maintain an Exchange server of an onsite hosted type, and this is mainly due to hardware demands. With regard to Exchange 2019, a minimum recommended RAM of 128 gigabytes is dictated as compared to Exchange 2016, which dictated a minimum requirement of eight (8) gigabytes; what this means is, in layman’s terms, not meeting minimal requirements would be the first thing Microsoft’s tech support would warn you about should you be running less than this.

To be honest, we here at DMS iTech feel the on-premises Exchange server represents a bit of an outdated approach, what with more clients choosing to move their emails to the Cloud rather than investing in an update of their on-premises email server.

The reasons why basically boil down to this:

  • Cost – As we also hinted at above, cost is one of the main reasons why businesses have been switching to Exchange Online; when you break the costs down, it’s easy to understand why so many companies are moving their systems to the Cloud. When purchasing (or upgrading) an on-premises email server, you’ll need to purchase Windows server and Exchange licensing, in addition to client access licenses for every user within your company. These licensing costs alone can run high, and that’s before even getting into purchasing the server hardware. There are also costs associated with running/hosting a server on-premises relating to power, ongoing maintenance and some type of essential backup; Exchange Online, in comparison, incorporates all of the features found in an on-premises Exchange solution for a low monthly cost.
  • Reliability – Cloud email servers are, in general, inherently more reliable than on-premises email servers. Consider that with on-premises approaches, the service reliability could be significantly affected by power outages or hardware failures, made worse if no redundant backups have been put into place. With Exchange Online, all the functionality of an on-premises Exchange server is realized without the responsibility of ongoing maintenance or reliance on redundancy, should an outage occur.
  • Maintenance – This brings us to maintenance, which was briefly touched on in the point above; indeed, we can tell you from vast experience that maintenance is a cost that far too many times gets overlooked when small businesses conduct their budget planning for, say, the year ahead. On-premises Microsoft servers like Exchange require both unplanned and scheduled maintenance in the form of everything from rolling out updates to patching and services packs, but the implementation of this type of maintenance can get quite daunting and complex. With Exchange Online, the responsibility of all patching, security updates and upgrades is the responsibility of the vendor (in this case, Microsoft).

DMS iTech: Licenses for Exchange Online and More

Now you can work smarter with business-class email and calendaring through DMS iTech’s implementation of Exchange. Collaborate on your critical documents and experience a focused inbox that prioritizes important messages while adapting to your work style, ultimately enabling you to get more done – faster.

Through two plans for Exchange Online licenses, DMS iTech allows you to choose an ultra-affordable route for realizing secure and reliable business-class email, unlimited storage, hosted voicemail, data loss prevention, connection of Outlook to Exchange Online and a myriad of other great features.