Monday, November 10, 2014

Leaving Gmail - Hello Office 365!

I've been a Gmail user for years and consequently, I've found myself quite embedded in the Google line products.   I have an Android and also use the connected products (like this blog), but Gmail has always been on my list of products to migrate away from.

Notwithstanding the privacy issues that are continually raised on the Google platform, I wanted to untangle the complex web I had to create in order to make everything work for me on the Gmail platform.  This was further prompted by my renewal at GoDaddy that was topping $200 annually. (More on this later...)

Granted, I don't have a ton of email, and nothing I am doing is enterprise class, but I do have my personal account (a vanity domain), a business type of personal account (also a vanity domain), a couple of POP3 accounts that my alma maters have set up for me, and an exchange account that I have to use to communicate to my students (I teach at a local college).  Quite a mess if you have to keep track of email from a number of different interfaces...
... and how would this all work with mobile access??

Well, Gmail was here to save the day - Kind of...
I did get everything to work pretty well, but I had to do a number of workarounds to make everything click.  Gmail gave me a lot of space (I'm currently using 7GB of my 15GB mailbox) and I absolutely fell in love with the Archive function.

Over time, some of the Gmail shortcomings started to bother me, and with my last GoDaddy bill, my "want" to start to consolidate everything (from GoDaddy, to Gmail, to Exchange) prompted me to start to look at Office 365 is a viable alternative to my Gmail mailbox - a central repository for all of my mail.
What were some of the issues with my current setup?  Godaddy's SMTP Relay limits and Gmail's "On behalf of" problem. A description of this is clipped here from Wikipedia:
"... any email sent through the Gmail interface included the address as the "sender", even if it was sent with a custom email address as "from". For example, an email sent with an external "from" address using Gmail could be displayed to a receiving email client user as From on behalf of (the display used by versions of Microsoft Outlook). By exposing the Gmail address, Google claimed that this would "help prevent mail from being marked as spam..."
This was unacceptable to me, so I signed up for SMTP Relay accounts with GoDaddy and routed my mail through them instead of the Gmail servers.  GoDaddy would only allow 50 messages per day with their SMTP relay service, which would also pose a problem for me at times.

Since I work for a Microsoft Gold Partner, I started to see first-hand the functionality Office 365 had, and was moving closer and closer to setting up a "tenant" to do some testing.  The features that get added to Office 365 are staggering - You can see the road map here.

One evening, I decided to flip the switch.  I've successfully made the switch over to Office 365, and it was a piece of cake.  I'm starting to assemble some of the steps I've taken to make Office 365 a great way to consolidate all of my email and the use of some of the functions Office 365 offers to make my consolidated email box something that is functional and not overwhelming. Look for those notes to appear here over the next couple of weeks - Including setting up websites in Azure!

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