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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a freelance data mangler in London

Some thoughts on email hosting for one’s own domain

I have used the same email providers for my own domains for a few years now however I am considering moving over to a new provider. In this email I’ll share my current thoughts and hopefully I’ll get some feedback that might help me to decide on what to do next.

What I use today

I have three email addresses that I use primarily (I have changed the domains in this blog post as I don’t want to give them away to spammers):

  • jamie@jtpersonaldomain.com – My personal account that I give out to family and friends and which I use to register on websites
  • maillist@jtpersonaldomain.com  - An account that I use to catch email from the numerous mailing lists that I am on
  • jamie@jtworkdomain.com – I am a self-employed consultant so this is an account that I hand out to my clients, my accountant, and other work-related organisations

Those two domains (jtpersonaldomain.com & jtworkdomain.com) are both managed at http://domains.live.com which is a fantastic service provided by Microsoft that for some perplexing reason they never bother telling anyone about.

SNAGHTMLb160547

It offers multiple accounts (I have seven at jtpersonaldomain.com though as already stated I only use two of them) which are accessed via Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail.com) along with usage reporting plus a few other odds and sods that I never use. Best of all though, its totally free.

In addition, given that I have got both domains hosted using http://domains.live.com I can link my various accounts together and switch between them at Outlook.com without having to login and logout:

SNAGHTMLb1bf782

N.B. You’ll notice that there are two other accounts listed there in addition to the three I already mentioned. One is my mum’s account which helps me provide IT support/spam filtering services to her and the other is the donation account for AdventureWorks on Azure.

I find that linking feature to be very handy indeed.

Finally, http://domains.live.com is the epitome of “it just works”. I set up jtworkdomain.com at http://domains.live.com over three years ago and I am pretty certain I haven’t been back there even once to administer it.

Proposed changes

OK, so if I like http://domains.live.com so much why am I considering changing? Well, I earn my corn in the Microsoft ecosystem and if I’m reading the tea-leaves correctly its looking increasingly likely that the services that I’m going to have to be familiar with in the future are all going to be running on top of and alongside Windows Azure Active Directory and Office 365 respectively.

Its clear to me that Microsoft’s are pushing their customers toward cloud services and, like it or lump it, data integration developers like me may have to come along for the ride. I don’t think the day is too far off when we can log into Windows Azure SQL Database (aka SQL Azure), Team Foundation Service, Dynamics etc… using the same credentials that are currently used for Office 365 and over time I would expect those things to get integrated together a lot better – that integration will be based upon a Windows Azure Active Directory identity. This should not come as a surprise, in my opinion Microsoft’s whole enterprise play over the past 15 or 20 years can be neatly surmised as “get people onto Windows Server and Active Directory then upsell from there” – in the not-too-distant-future the only difference is that they’re trying to do it in the cloud.

I want to get familiar with these services and hence I am considering moving jtworkdomain.com onto Office 365. I’ll lose the convenience of easily being able to switch to that account at Outlook.com and moreover I’ll have to start paying for it (I think it’ll be about fifty quid a year – not a massive amount but its quite a bit more than free) but increasingly this is beginning to look like a move I have to make.

So that’s where my head is at right now. Anyone have any relevant thoughts or experiences to share? Please let me know in the comments below.

@Jamiet

Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 2:02 PM by jamiet

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Comments

 

jbooker said:

Hey Jamie,

You'll like Office365 for email and for domain management.  With an E level subscription you can have many domains setup on a single org.  All with full exchange online capabilities including archive in the cloud and connectors to other mail providers like hotmail.com.  This gives you the option to have all your mail for mutiple domains land in a single mailbox or have separate accounts\mailboxes if you prefer.  Choose the former, and you can use rules to sort the mail for each addresse into separate folders.  You get full OWA experience vs. the limited experience you get with hotmail\outlook.com.  Since the hotmail switch to outlook.com, my guess is hotmail.com\live.com\outlook.com all share the same exchange online backend.  The diff is Office365 is full exchange capability while the free is more limiting, I think.  You may want to inquire ahead about moving a domain from outlook.com to O365, because I think you'll have to remove it from live.com first then add it to O365 which may result in downtime...I don't know that for sure, but at least have accurate expectations.

As for cost, ms partners can start for free if you enroll in cloud essentials program.  www.microsoftcloudpartner.com  They threaten sales quotas to maintain elligability, but thankfully, so far, those never seem to materialize.

Hope that helps.

Josh

October 18, 2012 10:10 AM
 

jamiet said:

Awesome info, thanks Josh.

"You may want to inquire ahead about moving a domain from outlook.com to O365, because I think you'll have to remove it from live.com first then add it to O365 which may result in downtime"

I'm not expecting that to be a problem. I'm assuming all I need to do is change the MX record at my domain registrar - that's all I had to to send mail to domains.live.com so I assume I just need to point it to O365 instead.

cheers

Jamie

October 18, 2012 10:15 AM
 

jbooker said:

True changing MX record will make your mail go to Office365, but only if you've added and verified the domain on O365 in advance.

Adding domains to O365 goes something like this:

Add .com to admin panel

get verification code

add dns record at registrar for verification

verify domain in admin panel

I wonder if any of this is possible if the same domain is still on outlook.com.  I don't know that's a problem for sure, so I'd find out in advance first.

Moving a domain from BPOS (pre-O365 exchange online) to O365 required removing from BPOS first.  I wasn't using email in BPOS at the time so can't say how email was effected.  I'm sure theres a way to do it with minimal or no downtime, but 'how to' might not be evident without some digging or trial and error.

You might try the O365 forums for posts about Office Live Small Business transition issues.  Forum user 'mch' is the guru of self-described 'OLSB refugees'.

Josh

October 18, 2012 10:49 AM
 

jamiet said:

yeah I know. I have actually already set my mum up on O365 after moving her from OLSB (here's her website: http://www.bestfriendpets.co.uk/ - I'm no web designer I'm afraid) so I think I'm au fait with moving domains over. The simple question I need to answer is...is it worth it!

October 18, 2012 11:01 AM
 

Khalid F said:

Say hi to Denise from me ;-)

October 19, 2012 5:17 AM
 

Scott Stauffer said:

How timely... I have been considering much the same things over the past few months.  I need to understand the o365 offerings a little better.  I have been working with a company as a sub, and they provide a limited 0365 and I am unsure of the lync offering.  Have gmail.com, outlook.com (moved hotmail.com account over) and ISP email account with domain name email aliasing for the SQLServerToolbox.com => shawbiz.ca account... I think I need to spend some time looking at the men in the middle and shuffle them off.  unwanted Delay is being introduced.

October 24, 2012 7:14 PM

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