Friday 18 April 2008

Hosted Exchange for the world

Large Hosted Exchange providers can get bitten by scheduled maintenance – it will always be in everyones contract, but what happens when a certain percentage of your customers are outside your timezone? – worse still, substantially.

To expand your Hosted mailboxes you have to reach further than your own country – and a lot of Hosted Exchange providers can say they host mailboxes for companies across both the Americas, Europe and the Middle East/Asias.

Intelligence has to be added to your provisioning portal – otherwise your Hong Kong users from Company A could be put on the same Exchange Server (not necessarily the same Mailstore or even Storage Group) as the rest of Company A’s users from Europe. And what’s worse? The rest of the users on the Exchange Server are based in Europe. How is the scheduled maintenance justified to the Hong Kong contigent when it's happening during their working day?

So how does scheduled maintenance come into effect here?

Working out of hours to GMT isn’t going to cut it for the users in Hong Kong as their day is still in full swing – this is where careful planning and design is required. The ideal answer is to carve up the World Map into set zones, so whether a single company is from Dubai, or a single company has offices in Dubai, Europe and the USA you do not affect their respective core working hours. This requires a lot of Dev work - as although HMC supports provisioning to multiple stores for a customer, it doesn’t have the intelligence of splitting users between ‘time zone Exchange Server farms’ based on their location for example. This is where in-house or outsourced Dev work is required.

Suffice to say our current Exchange 2003 solution doesn’t have this feature – we support the provisioning to multiple databases – even across multiple Exchange Servers – however there is not the intelligence that is required for a Hosted Exchange supplier to rule all time zones and keep customers that have offices in some or all, happy.

This might have to be a phase 2 or 3 step in most Hosters plans, but it is a much needed step to successfully achieve 100,000 mailboxes and beyond.

Oliver Moazzezi

MVP - Exchange Server

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