We’ve talked in the past about the many benefits an Exchange server provides. For a mobile device user, it’s been a very solid option for your mail, contacts, appointments, tasks and notes as we pointed out in our "Hosted Exchange 101" article. Now that Gmail is […]

ExchangeiconWe’ve talked in the past about the many benefits an Exchange server provides. For a mobile device user, it’s been a very solid option for your mail, contacts, appointments, tasks and notes as we pointed out in our "Hosted Exchange 101" article. Now that Gmail is rolling out IMAP support however, I’m taking a long, serious look at closing down my hosted Exchange plan. I don’t expect I’ll make a choice for another week or two yet, but wanted to start the thought process and conversation now.

I still think that Exchange with a Windows Mobile powereddevice is the simplest and most bulletproof option, but other choicesare now more compelling than before and less expensive. My generalstarting point thoughts on this:

  • Hosted Exchange costs me $12.95 a month; using Gmail is free and provides more storage, which would save me around $156 a year.
  • If I need more storage, I can use Google’s Premier Apps for $50 a year; that nets me 25 GB of space.
  • I can use my kctofel@jkontherun.com e-mail address with Gmail which means I don’t have to make an e-mail domain change.
  • I’m carrying my iPhone much more often than my Dash. The Dash inunlocked, so I have to take my SIM out of the iPhone to use in the Dash.
  • I’m currently touching many of my e-mails twice: once on the iPhoneand once in a mail client due to the way IMAP and Exchange worktogether. Not good for a mobile device user.
  • I’ll need some third party options for the Mac in order to sync my Google Calendar with iCal. Spanning Sync looks to be worth a look.
  • I’d lose over the air synching of non-mail items suchas calendar events, tasks, contacts and notes. I can live without notesand I don’t add too many contacts when I’m out and about. I would haveweb access to my calendar so that might work OK considering I writefull-time and have far fewer appointments than I did when working inthe corporate world.
  • Direct Push e-mail is nice, but I can now get by with my iPhone checking for mail every 15 minutes.

Again, just starting points. I still swear by Exchange; it’s an outstanding solution for those that need it.I’ve realized over the past six months of full-time blogging that myneeds have changed and I just might not need it. For folks in acorporate or high-pace environment, moving to the solution I’mconsidering would be a tougher option for sure. James, for example, isalways on the go with his job and the Google option probably wouldn’tbe best for someone like him. It’s simply a matter of finding andapplying the best solution for your needs. Mine may be met withoutExchange and I’d be foolish not to consider the options.

Of course, Iwelcome your thoughts and will share my additional steps along the wayto the decision!

  1. If I learned one thing from your podcasts, it’s “Free is good.”

  2. How about setting up your own exchange server at home? I’m sure you have an older machine laying around somewhere, and along with a server edition of windows, you’re good to go. If you don’t have a static IP, try a service like http://www.no-ip.com, and you don’t need the high speeds etc. that the big services provide you with, a simple (a)dsl line or whatever it is you have there should to the trick just fine.

    This is just wild talk, really. I have no idea how difficult/expensive it is to set this all up, but it sounds like just a one-time investment, which gives you everything you need, without the monthly expenses. And you can even split the costs with your fellow mobile gadgeteer James if you wish.

    Just a thought :).


  3. GoodThings2Life Saturday, October 27, 2007

    I don’t think Google’s offering is an end-all be-all solution just yet. You still have to jump through hoops to get it all working the way you want and it still depends on outside syncing utilities to help keep things managed. That said it is an excellent start, especially for those who only care about e-mail.

    I will not be surprised to see Microsoft counter Google’s move with Windows Live Hotmail. The Outlook Connector option is a huge benefit now, but it’s a purely desktop solution, not a mobile one.

    However, the latest Windows Live Hotmail clearly indicates that they’re moving the interface to the more traditional Outlook Web Access format. Hotmail has run on Exchange services for years now, so it’s purely a matter of implementing the service over IMAP or ActiveSync. This would effectively make Hotmail a hosted-Exchange option, and it would certainly make Hotmail more attractive, considering the massive mailbox sizes they’re offering now.

  4. GoodThings2Life Saturday, October 27, 2007


    Actually, the expense is the biggest issue for running your own setup. The licensing and setup can be expensive and time consuming, but once it’s setup it’s fantastic. I run Exchange on my own personal web site and have for years now. I can’t imagine using anything else.

    The advantage to the hosted Exchange option is that even though there’s a cost involved, you don’t have to go through the full expense or administrative hassle.

    I still think a hosted Exchange option is the best for most individuals, but I like that Google and others are beginning to provide alternatives.

  5. It sounds to me like it’s going to come down to how well the 3rd party solutions work over time. I’m not sure how well they work, it comes down to how well they compare to the overall solution of the Exchange Server. Interesting concept though.

  6. I think this could work.

    There is a lot of interesting work being done with SyncML that will be ported to the iPhone soon.

    If you want to host your own look at setting up a Funambol server, otherwise scheduleworld.com is free.

  7. I just dumped my hosted exchange account for Gmail this week. My biggest problem with this setup right now is that iTunes will only sync calendars with Outlook on a PC, and I lost my Outlook license when dropping the hosted Exchange Server account.

    I’m crossing my fingers that Apple will add Google calendar syncing soon.

  8. Hey Guys,
    I have been using mail2web for sometime on their $1.99 plan. It served my needs just fine. But last month they pulled a very cheap and unprofessional rate increase that really gave me a bad taste. I have sense then just converted down to their FREE Exchange Plan.
    But the good news is that Push EMAIL Provider SEVEN has just announced FREE service on an EXTENDED BETA. I couldn’t find any proposed length of time anywhere for the length of this “Extended BETA” (didn’t look that hard) but after setting the acct up and installing on my Verizon Wireless XV6700 so far I am impressed. And since Kevin is shopping, like Joe says “FREE IS GOOD”. In fact very good! So check out SEVENS FREE Extended BETA guys, http://community.seven.com/forum/main.php In case this forum doesnt handle the URL well I made you all a TinyURL as well fot the BETA Site http://tinyurl.com/36pxep

    I think you may like what you see. (By the way they are offering different levels as well, up to a 25 unit plan for business)

  9. I think Leopard Server from Apple Inc. would work best for you. Take a look at it. It has a cool podcast and video cast creation tools. Leopard server also has iCal and iChat capabilities. Since you are a professional blogger, podcast, and videocast producer you should give a look at it.


    Joshua A. Hall

  10. What about calendar, contacts and tasks? I find having these synced across all my devices is just as important as having my email synced. Does GMail offer these as well? Even if it did, they can’t be synced via IMAP as far as I’m aware.

    @GoodThings2Life, I’m not sure Microsoft will try and compete with Google on this one, at least not for their free accounts. They pulled POP3 access for new free accounts about a year ago so I doubt they would make IMAP access available.


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