I am the first to admit that I am not a typical mobile device user, after all I always have multiple devices in the rotation for review purposes. We have always been clear at jkOnTheRun that we believe almost everyone should have a hosted Exchange Server account now that they have gotten pretty cheap to have. Today I was doing a lot of different things at Mobile Tech Manor (MTM) and realized something that drove the Exchange Server benefits even closer to home so at the risk of being redundant I am once again stating that my personal belief is that everyone should have a hosted Exchange Server account.
Now, calm down, I know that most people just want to do simple POP email and that I will hear a lot of "Exchange Server is overkill for me" comments but I want you to listen to me before saying that. What got me revisiting the hosted Exchange Server (ES) benefits this morning was taking a look around my office in MTM and counting the devices that I use with my ES. I counted seven devices that happily work with my ES with no interaction on my part! I know that’s unusual and I’m not pointing that out to lord that over anyone, I have said often how fortunate I am to be in the business I am in. No, the reason I point that out is because as I was thinking about all the devices that work with my hosted ES I also realized that I can pick any one of them up at any time and it will give me an accurate reflection of my personal data. Email, tasks, notes and calendar are up-to-date on all of them without any action on my part. I enjoy this every day but rarely think about it because it just works, and that’s the mark of an excellent enabling technology.
A hosted Exchange Server account brings other benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked, the most significant of which is that my data is backed up and retrievable no matter what happens to any one of these devices. I have the information existing not only in Outlook, my daily PIM manager, but on each of the devices as well. Taking that even further the host of my Exchange Server backs up all of my data daily too, so even if all seven devices took a dive at once (heaven forbid) I could still get at my important data and bring a new device into specs in just a few minutes. That is powerful stuff indeed. Even if you are more typical than I and just have a mobile PC and a desktop, or maybe a PC and a PDA, you will see the benefits just as I do and they will end up being no less important to you than to me.
One of my seven devices using the ES is my MacBook Pro and even though I don’t like Entourage it does work well with the Server. That means that my benefits are not just multi-device but cross-platform as well. Throw into the mix that one of the devices is a Nokia N95 and you realize that my ES benefits cross five platforms- Windows (Vista & XP), Mac OS X, S60 3rd edition, RIM BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. Five different platforms that interoperate with my work needs without any input on my part. The hosted Exchange Server just works flawlessly with each of them and keeps me able to pick up any one of the seven devices and have the ability to access my important emails and PIM data without a thought. The ability to put important documents in public folders on the Server means I can access them anywhere too. That’s heady stuff.
Hosted Exchange Servers seem overkill for the average user but I assure you they are not. Couple that with the fact that you can pick an account up for pretty decent money and I believe everyone should have one. If you are a Windows Mobile user like me then the ES will let you avoid the bane of our existence, Windows Mobile Device Center on Vista. Since my Windows Mobile devices can access the ES directly I don’t have to attach them to a PC, and that makes my life much happier. Even if you just use one PC in your life the hosted Exchange Server will come to your aide if you get a new computer. Maybe you have to send your PC in for repair (heaven forbid) and you get use of a loaner from someone you can still get at your data. Most hosts will let you access your data with Outlook Web Access meaning you can interact with your PIM stuff using the web browser on most any device that can access the web. It’s heady stuff for sure.