Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Microsoft today announced the public beta of Exchange 2010. This product is a natural extension and improvement over Exchange 2007 (and anybody on Exchange 2003 should really be looking at it), but it also introduces at least one important new capability: email archiving.

But I'll let my colleagues explain that in more detail. I want to focus today on one aspect of Exchange 2010 that should matter to information and knowledge management professionals at large firms: saving money by moving occasional users to the cloud.

Microsoft's Software + Service strategy has rapidly matured and is native to Exchange 2010. This architecture of a single environment that spans on-premise and cloud-based gives large firms an opportunity to leave some mailboxes on-premise and host others in the cloud to save money without incurring admin hassles.

Exchange 2010 is the first product that Microsoft has engineered to run as well in the cloud as on-premise. That means it will be easier to split your domain and run a single managed environment (meaning one admin console, one archiving management tool set, one legal hold implementation, one message filtering solution) across an on-premise and cloud-based implementation.

And that means a Fortune-class company can keep its high-volume mailboxes on-premise while taking advantages of the higher degree of automation, direct-attached storage, and new functionality of Exchange 2010. But it can also move occasional users that can get by with a small mailbox and Web email client (which they are probably using at home anyway) to a cloud provider (Microsoft itself, or a provider like USA.NET, AT&T, or LiveOffice.com).

With Exchange 2010, you can provision those occasional users for $2/user/month. (Well, you can do that with Exchange 2007 as well, but it might be easier to do the wholesale transition to a hybrid environment with an overall server and tool refresh.)

Based on our fully loaded costs of email historically, that can save you $100/user/year. And that ain't chump change.

(You can of course move all your mailboxes to the cloud as companies as large as GSK with 100,000 users have done. But you don't need to take that leap in order to get the benefits of cloud economics.)

Thoughts, questions, concerns, disagreement, experience? Please comment.