Moving to Office 365? Here’s why you need a secure email gateway and archive service as well

Paul Vallely

If you’re considering a move to Office 365, then you’ll have been told the benefits. Its calendaring, access to Office documents, and email delivery capabilities are superb. Before taking the leap, though, it would be wise to consider a third-party email and archiving service provider as a complement to Microsoft’s offering. There are several things first-time subscribers may not have considered when planning their move to Office 365, these include:

Availability

Office 365 goes down – a lot. As early as 2012, Microsoft had to formally apologize to customers after its service went offline. It went down in February 2013 for several hours, and again in June 2014, leading customers to question Microsoft’s communication methods. Then, it went down up to four times in three months at the start of 2016. All of this points to an unassailable fact: relying on Office 365 alone may leave you in hot water with users and executives. 

A secondary service that sees email before it hits your Office 365 system will help to protect you against unforeseen service disruption and keep your mail flowing smoothly, even if Microsoft’s infrastructure hits another speed bump.

Archiving

Your legal and compliance team will tell you that email archiving is a vital part of your information strategy. In many industries you must maintain an archive. However, even if you’re not legally required to, it makes good business sense as it provides insurance for future customer disputes that may escalate to legal action. The archiving capabilities in Office 365 are rudimentary, and unless you have purchased an enterprise level plan you will have to pay extra for any additional features. It doesn’t support other, non-Microsoft platforms, and there is also an inherent danger in storing your archived email with your primary email service provider.

By using a dedicated third-party archiving service, from a solution provider that concentrates on best-in-class email storage, you will be getting more risk tolerance, along with a highly searchable system that supports different user roles. 

Security

Not all email security is the same in Office 365. The basic service gives you moderate email security, including the ability to scan emails for files with known malware signatures. However, to get more robust protection, including zero-day scanning and real-time protection from malicious URLs, you’ll need to pay roughly two dollars more per seat for its Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service. 

Even after you pay extra for what would be considered entry-level features in dedicated email security solutions, you may find that you’re still left wanting. ATP doesn’t provide access to other useful security features including ‘grey listing’, which forces the sender’s email server to resend the message, filtering out spam senders who generally don’t comply.

A dedicated email security service will provide you with comprehensive protection, using multiple malware scanning services, sandboxing, advanced spam protection, and heuristic scanning to dramatically lower your risk of exposure.

So to recap. Office 365 is a great collaboration and productivity tool, but don’t make the mistake of relying on its own add-ons for all of your security or archiving needs. Hedge your bets. Rely on Microsoft to deliver highly functional collaboration and productivity features, but look to specialist solution providers and products like MAX Mail for the vital reliability and security services that will guarantee you peace of mind.