At C's request, I figured I would delve deeper into this.
During my time doing some side consulting work, I had one person ask me about email solutions. We discussed in-depth what they use their email for, how much they use it, and what they are most comfortable with. I've done this before for the company I work with and the client had similar needs. While their usage scenario was not the exact same, there were a couple of issues I could work through with an alternative solution.
The needs for this project were pretty simple:
Multiple users wanted access to their same emails from all of their devices.
In the modern era of computing this is pretty simple to accomplish. There are a few different ways:
2) Online Service (Gmail, Office 365, etc.)
3) POP3 w/ Syncing
There may be other ways of accomplishing this, but these are the methods I have seen for the most part.
The other way, which I was hesitant to suggest, would be to store all of the emails on a server and access using a webmail client.
There are a few reasons why I don't want to suggest a self-hosted solution to businesses.
1) Most businesses around here lack someone who has enough time and knowledge to be able to manage an email server adequately.
2) Security with most businesses around here is rather... lax.
3) If something happens with their email, I will be the first person they are going to contact. It is also going to be MY fault that they forgot to ensure their server, which I did not set up, did not have a battery backup.
Full Disclosure: I am not a networking professional. Nor am I an experienced server administrator.
This being said, I know my way around things and can generally spot a problem before it becomes a problem.
I gave this company the usual recommendations. They apparently had an internal meeting and decided, against my judgment, to get an Exchange server.
"One of our competitors is using Exchange and my partners felt like it would be a great idea to make our company look big. We want our customers and our competitors to know we mean business."
"Alright. Are you going to use Office 365?"
"We want to bring it in house."
So at this point they are asking me to help them pick out the hardware for the server, the type of rack they would need, and the type of machine they would need to get together an internal Exchange server. Let's ignore the fact that I know very little about Exchange or the requirements to set up a server. I explain this to them and they feel like I should be able to handle it. "You're a smart guy!"
I entertained them for about 2 days. I reached out to a friend of mine that had experience in handling Exchange. I also took some lessons I had received from when my company had attempted to do the same thing (through an external company).
At the end of this time period I withdrew myself from the project and gave them a couple of references to companies around the area. I explained to them the difficulty I would have and that I wouldn't have the time to manage their email.
Many businesses want to appear to be "big" and "enterprise" in order to make sure their clientele feels comfortable with them. I can understand to some extent wanting to not look like a "one man show", but there comes a point where appearing like a "big corporation" is going to cause more problems than it solves.
It is something that really bugs me in the small business world. This was a business that was SIX PEOPLE.
Why do six people need an on-site Exchange server?
If you're not sure why I am even ranting about an Exchange server, I am very glad you have not been put through the hell that is setting up, managing, or diagnosing one.
I will post a few more examples of this thought process later. I am getting flashbacks from just typing this. >>