Many small and mid-sized businesses are re-evaluating their email service. In the past, the de-facto email standard was Microsoft Exchange installed on a Windows server that you hosted in house. In the past couple of years, many new options have emerged and are being considered seriously by small business. The two major competitors in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market are Google Apps and Microsoft Hosted Exchange.
Why hosted email?
Before we can get into the pros and cons of Google Apps and Hosted Exchange, we first have to examine why people are moving over to hosted email in the first place. I think it is safe to say that most users expect email to work ALL the time. For small companies with a small or non-existent IT department, providing a service with 99.9% uptime is fairly difficult and expensive. Anytime that there is a disruption in service, such as the server going down or being compromised, the IT admin has to scramble to get everything up. Any downtime whatsoever results in extremely unhappy users and an exhausted and stressed IT admin. Another big issue for expanding companies is scalability and how much it costs to do that scaling.
How does hosted email solve this problem?
A hosted email solution with a reputable company offers extremely reliable email service without all of the headaches and costs. Scalability is a non-issue, as a company like Google or Microsoft is already handling hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of email accounts. Keeping their system up and running is something that both take extremely seriously, and pump millions of dollars and very talented engineering into. Basically, economies of scale allows these large companies to provide a better email service at a cheaper price.
I would go with Google Apps. The main reason for that is cost, Microsoft is simply charging too much. As you can see, Google Apps just beat out Hosted Exchange. The key was all those extras that Google throws in and that Microsoft does not.