more-arw search

Q&A Forum

We need recommendations for a company to host our server ASAP!

HELP!!! I need to find a good option for having my company's file and exchange server hosted by an outside company. We have been doing it in-house until now on an old Dell server, but it keeps breaking down and we need to switch. Can anyone tell me their good and bad experiences with hosting, what to look out for, average costs, and who they would or would NOT recommend? I am just starting my research, but... we would like to have something picked ASAP!!  Also....

  • We are currently running SBS2008 and using it as an Exchange Server as well as a file server for VPN/ftp
  • Using google apps as an Edge server. (Exchange is pointing to google apps for our mail server)
  • Currently backing up to Cryptonite. (Should no longer need this with a hosted service)
  • Not currently using Sharepoint but ‘may’ consider converting in the future.
  • Need ~100GB File Storage.

Thanks so much in advance for your help!!
Hillari

Answers

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I am in the process of working through options for our current server hosting as well. I recently took a tour of a new facility which was able to boast multiple levels of redundancy and support at the level the client needs. This is important for their international clients and smaller mom and pops more closely related to my company size. We have not made the final decision to change, but we will likely choose to work with this company. They are Liberty Center One and their website with all information and ability to take a virtual tour is www.libertycenterone.com.

I was impressed with the information they shared up front versus other companies who gave you basics and waited for you to know what else to ask about.

Best of luck,
Sara

Hillari Selby
Title: Internal Recruiter
Company: Gemological Institute of America
LinkedIn Profile
(Internal Recruiter, Gemological Institute of America) |

Thanks Sara!! I will lookk into them!

Also, all three of these were recommended to me - any specific thoughts on these?

www.sherweb.com
Amazon
Rackspace

thanks!

Kamol Farid
Title: Treasurer
Company: ParaCPA, LLC
(Treasurer, ParaCPA, LLC) |

Hi Hillari, I recommend Google Apps for Business. I you like, I could help with integration questions.

http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

I have used them twice as CFO for small to mid-sized companies, including currently. http://www.intermedia.net/default.aspx. They claim to be the "world's largest" Exchange host :). Who knows, but it works for us. Very quick and simple to get up and running with them and the pricing is competitive - I want to say something like $10/month/mailbox for 10 users and less as users increase (can't recall precisely what it costs), plus $3/month/user for ActiveSync users (for iPhone access) and $10/month for Blackberry access/user. They take care of all the uptime headaches for us (and uptime is pretty much 100%) and their tech support is always there to answer the phone.

One thing i don't love is that they don't do tech support directly with end-users. The admin on the account (that is, you or someone at your company) is the primary contact with Intermedia and they are the ones that all support goes through.

Topic Expert
Mark Von Der Linn
Title: Principal
Company: www.VDLconsulting.com
(Principal, www.VDLconsulting.com) |

It's been a couple years, but I used to use Intermedia and was very happy with their service all the way around.

Jane Levin
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: Private
(Corporate Controller, Private) |

I recently started using Box.net for corporate file hosting and sharing. It is extremely useful. You can set permissions on a file-by-file or folder-by-folder basis and they have a new sync feature which is incredible. It synchronizes your online (box) files with your computer's files in real time whenever you are online. You select the folders you want sync'd and just access and update as you normally would on your hard drive, and Box automatically syncs your changes with your cloud stored files. Then other people you have shared those files with via permissions can also see those files as soon as they are updated (which is instantly if you are online). You set the sync and forget it and your files are always there, backed up or available for others. They have a smart phone app which i have used and it's saved me more than once. It's definitely worth checking out. http://www.box.net/pricing.

Greg Stout
Title: CTO
Company: Proformative
(CTO, Proformative) |

You might want to consider cloud storage for your files. I won’t extol all the virtues of cloud storage, but I have used a few cloud solution for files, websites, and servers. Many of them were hosted on Amazon’s S3 service (some on the Rackspace cloud) and I used a simple 3rd party “front-end” application to hide the complexity to our employees and users. You can configure it to be secure (limit users that can see it) and encrypted if desired.
Here is what I tend to use for the “front-end” applications for Amazon S3: Cloudberry (http://cloudberrylab.com/) and S3 Browser (http://s3browser.com/?src=app&version=2-4-5&platform=desktop&fam=x86). I found these very simple to use and useful, especially large files (videos, specs, etc.). Some of these tools allow you to make the storage look like it is just an external hard drive attached to the computer (known as a mounted drive).

For a price, some of these services will also distribute your content to various servers around the country/world (CDN) so that access to the files is very quick since the file is coming from a nearby server.

Cloud storage usually involves three costs: Storage, Bandwidth (Transfer of data), and Access tools. Storage generally runs about $0.15 per GB. Bandwidth usually costs around $0.15 per GB of transferred data (this can vary greatly). The tools (like Cloudberry or S3 Broswer) are priced from free (with basic features) to $8 - $30 per user depending on the number of users. Many of the tools have automatic sync features, auto backup, etc. Management of Cloud storage solutions are usually minimal (IT costs, etc.).

Other solutions are all-in-one solutions, like Box.net (http://www.box.net) and Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com). These are sometimes more expensive, but these are usually managed (support, restores, etc.). They are becoming more popular, prices are becoming competitive, and integration with PCs are more mature (and many of them are even built on top of cloud servers).

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

Hillari
I didn't mean to ignore you yesterday. I logged off and have not had a chance to respond to your second question. I have only really heard of Rackspace, but I don't recall anything special about them.

I do think that many of the suggestions that came after mine also offer other options and more questions to consider when making this decision. I am concerned that after all the work we do to make a decision there might be a basic question forgotten which could make a material difference.

Good Luck.
Sara

Bill Aiken
Title: Principal & CEO
Company: Abacist Group
(Principal & CEO, Abacist Group) |

I run a Financial Planning & Analysis and Corporate Performance Management consulting business and have been using 123 Together for hosted Exchange/Outlook and SharePoint services for 3 years now, and have been very happy.

I pay $10/month for Exchange/Outlook for users without mobile device access and $15/mo for users with a mobile device.

For SharePoint, I pay $15/month for all users combined. However, that rate limits me to 500 MB of storage, so you would pay slightly more. That is the best $15 I spend every month.

It is nice to have Exchange/Outlook/SharePoint all together as they integrate well. E.g., we keep a team calendar on SharePoint that I can view in Outlook along with my personal calendar. I can also automatically download files stored on SharePoint into Outlook, so I can review/work on them on a plane, etc.

I have been very please with the value.

Topic Expert
Mark Von Der Linn
Title: Principal
Company: www.VDLconsulting.com
(Principal, www.VDLconsulting.com) |

Depends what you mean by hosted. If you want to be hardware-free and just pay a monthly service bill to use Exchange and store/access files, then I really think you should look at Google Enterprise. I know it doesn't sound like a "real" solution, but having seen the pitch, I believe it is. You'd be surprised at the companies that are going to it. If you plan to own hardware and just want to have it stored and managed elsewhere, that's more of Managed Services model - you would talk to local IT vendors for that.

Bob Bryan
Title: Controller
Company:
(Controller, ) |

They are a low cost provider that I have found to be significantly cheaper than other hosting companies. They cater to small to medium size companies that are looking for basic services. Good luck!

Sam Thacker
Title: Partner/member
Company: BFS-USA Group LLC
(Partner/member, BFS-USA Group LLC) |

I haven't seen anyone mention the value of using a SAS 70 audited provider but I think it is worthwhile. I know SAS 70 doesn't guarantee the safety of your data, companies that do have regular SAS 70 audits appear to be more serious about security and uptime than others.

I would want to read any potential provider's service level agreement (SLA).

They need to provide some kind of uptime assurance and potentially even multiple server locations to mirror your data.

Microsoft has many very competent partners and I would also contact your local MS rep to get their list. If there is someone local to you, that can be a plus. I am moving a company off of their own hosted exchange server to a MS partner who we did a great deal of due diligence on. We chose a local provider (there are many in Austin TX where I am). We are also installing SharePoint 2010 and MS Dynamic CRM when the final release is available next month. We are paying on a per seat basis and I think the Sharepoint/CRM piece is going to run $12 per seat per month and the exchange server piece about $3.00 per seat per month. In this installation there will be about 20 seats. Many MS partner vendors will do implementations with as few as 2 seats.

Most importantly for the success of our project we picked a local MS partner, did our due diligence, talked to their customers, and toured both of their data facilities (to see their security). They have a primary and a mirror site. I do respect Amazon S3 and think there are some really good platforms if you are going to DIY. If you aren't going to do it yourself, find a really good consultant or partner who will take the time to understand your business processes and not someone who simply is selling products.

Good luck.

Topic Expert
Mark Von Der Linn
Title: Principal
Company: www.VDLconsulting.com
(Principal, www.VDLconsulting.com) |

All good advice from Sam. In particular, I agree you should use a good consultant. Vendors will tell you they are unbiased/agnostic, but they of course can not be if they have anything to sell. To get truly honest/unbiased advice, find a consultant that is paid by you alone (no referral fees or commission of any kind accepted from vendors). I know it seems obvious, but in the sometimes-confusing world of IT, I see people forget this all the time.

Hillari Selby
Title: Internal Recruiter
Company: Gemological Institute of America
LinkedIn Profile
(Internal Recruiter, Gemological Institute of America) |

All very useful advice for us! We ended up at Sherweb.com and so far it has been an easy transition, a good price, and excellent customer service and support. We are a very small shop, in case that is important for any one else reading this thread.

Hillari

Larry Liederman
Title: Controller
Company:
(Controller, ) |

We currently use StrataScale here in the Bay area.

Used 123 together as a previous company. Lots of issues with the contract and billing process. If you go their direction, I'd recommend that you scoure their contract to watch for auto renewal provisions and advance notice provisions. Also, their accounting folks left much to be desired and disconnected us once with no notice whatsoever.

2783 views
Topics

Get Free Membership

By signing up, you will receive emails from Proformative regarding Proformative programs, events, community news and activity. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact Us.

Business Exchange

Browse the Business Exchange to find information, resources and peer reviews to help you select the right solution for your business.

Learn more

Contribute to Community

If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to your Proformative community, we have many ways for you to get involved. Please email content@proformative.com to learn more about becoming a speaker or contributing to the blogs/Q&A Forum.