Email Hosting Providers Benchmark: Microsoft 365

Niccolo Matteoni
email mgmt - microsoft 365

Among the options evaluated for this analysis, we could not miss Microsoft, which since 1996 has offered a solid solution for professional email management via their Exchange software. 
Using the same analysis method as in the previous articles, today we will try to find out together whether or not Microsoft 365 is the most suitable solution for your needs. 

Each publication in this series contains relevant information that can be used independently. However, it is recommended that you read the entire series in order to grasp all the useful information and use it to your advantage!
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you take a look at the previous chapters in the series:

  1. Why you should manage your customers’ emails
  2. 7 Best Practices in Selling and Managing Professional Emails
  3. Email hosting providers benchmark: Dedicated Mail Server
  4. Email Hosting Providers Benchmark: Web Hosting Provider’s Email Accounts

In order to make a neutral comparison that is actually useful for choosing the most suitable service for your needs, we will compare 5 categories of alternates on the market, analysing for each of them the 7 most important characteristics that an email hosting service should have.

The seven aspects on which the comparative analysis will be based are:

  1. Reseller mode of use. What features are available? Is it user-friendly? What possibilities / opportunities / threats are there for the reseller?
  2. Security and Deliverability. These are the fundamental requirements for an email service. If they are not at an adequate level, all other features lose their meaning.
  3. Help Desk. How can you handle the support requests from your customers that you will inevitably receive?
  4. Migration Tools. When you acquire a new customer, you will probably have to carry out a migration, which if not handled properly can become an annoying niggle.
  5. Backup services. Nowadays, backup services are essential and must be taken into account when evaluating an email hosting service.
  6. Email account size. Your customers certainly have different needs when it comes to mailbox capacity. How much flexibility do the various providers offer you?
  7. Price and costs. It is no coincidence that this is the last point, you should not even consider it. But since I am sure it is of interest to you anyway, let’s talk about it.

The five alternatives we will compare are:

  1. Dedicated Mail Server
  2. Web Hosting Providers’ Email Accounts
  3. Microsoft 365
  4. Google Workspace 
  5. Qboxmail 

Microsoft 365

Reseller mode of use.

Microsoft, as everyone knows, offers a set of services for companies and resellers that goes beyond the management of mailboxes. 
In fact, the control panel developed by Microsoft puts the organisation as a company, and thus as an individual tenant, at the centre. Each customer therefore has its own administration interface, from which it will be possible to view and manage all Microsoft services active for each individual tenant. That’s all well and good, but in this article we are talking about mailbox management, and if you only consider this aspect, Microsoft’s solution may be oversized, thus forcing you to spend a lot of time even on a simple operation. On the other hand, Microsoft’s goal is clear: “YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER PROVIDER’S BEFORE ME”

Security and Deliverability

A giant like Microsoft certainly cannot fall down on this point. When it comes to deliverability and security, Microsoft is nowhere near as good as the solutions offered by web hosting providers, and undoubtedly offers a very robust solution. One reflection is necessary, however. As good as Microsoft’s built-in email security system is, it is certainly not at the top of their game. Otherwise, it cannot be explained why it is possible to purchase a premium service for email security for ‘only’ EUR 0.84/month + VAT per user. It is in fact a recommended practice to combine an external email security system with Exchange Online.

Help desk

Office 365 offers a wide range of tools for the help desk. The basic concept is always the same, from a single interface it is possible to request assistance for every Microsoft product purchased by the individual tenant. 
The range of tools for customer support is really extensive, and even with regard to mailbox problems, the possibilities are various: from the analysis of the utilisation of an organisation’s mailboxes to the resource consumption per workstation.
This high breadth of help desk services means that, of necessity, the depth of analysis of each individual problem is not as high, and certainly not as easy to consult. Microsoft in fact gives the possibility of contacting network partners to request specific assistance for each individual problem, not free of charge. Mention should also be made of Dynamic 365, a tool that can also be used for the company help desk, which is useful and complete with many functions that, of course, have to be paid for at an additional cost. 

Backup services

As with email security, the backup of email accounts is a service that Microsoft would have no problem developing as a proprietary solution.
But for commercial reasons, it does not. The strategy is to leave a few services behind so that partner companies can sell their own solution that can be integrated with Office 365 services and therefore be able to derive better margins on their customers managed with Microsoft’s suite. Do you remember? “YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER PROVIDER’S BEFORE ME”

Email account size

For Office 365 users, the minimum email account size is 50GB. Useful for some users for sure, but from the reseller’s point of view the total lack of flexibility translates into an inability to provide each customer with a solution tailored to their needs. Are we sure that all professionals need 50GB email accounts? 

Price and costs

In addition to email accounts, the Microsoft 365 package also includes licences for its applications (Excel, Word, etc.). The price therefore cannot be cheap, for companies it starts at a minimum of 5.10€/month + VAT. 
There is usually a discount of around 20% for resellers, so this 20% will be your maximum margin in reselling the service. Remember that all your competitors offer the Microsoft 365 service in exactly the same way as you do. Surely among your competitors there will be many who are willing to get a margin of 20% less, setting up a margin war that only benefits Microsoft, leaving you empty handed.
If, on the other hand, your company develops a complementary service to Microsoft 365, such as a backup system that integrates seamlessly with the rest of the applications, then surely reselling Microsoft is the best solution because by doing so you will also be distributing your own complementary service.

Fun fact

Did you know that to migrate Microsoft services from your control panel to that of your competitor (including email accounts), all you need to do is change an identification code?
A mere 10-minute operation. 
You can really tell that Microsoft cares about you! 

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