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I'll explain our current setup first.

We have about 20 computer users in our current office and have 2 other offices in other cities. We have one business server at our office which stores company documents learner files etc (training company). To access that server each computer has to be logged in through their 'My network places'. (Once they are logged in and had the password saved they don't need to log in again). I deal with most computer problems however an external IT person came in to set up the business Server (2003).

Problems:

1) Everyone uses MS Outlook to view their emails, one email account for assessments is viewed by a number of trainers, however the problem is that because they view it from their personal computers, the others aren't aware of what emails are sent to the learners unless a copy is CC'd to the main account (which it isn't). Is there a way to have a number of people logged in to the email account, on their own computers so that sent emails are all stored on that account.

Possible solution 1) Have a MS exchange server like a private cloud system, where everyone logs into it on their own computers, and there is just one 'virtual desktop'? for the assessment email desk, so it keeps a copy of all sent email for people to see. Other personal email accounts are also kept on the cloud, but would usually only have one person log in at a time, will it be fine to have multiple users log into the assess email account at the one time?

Problem 2) When new staff come in or when people change desk, if they don't move their computer with them they have to move their files, including Outlook .pst files, and server log ins need to be changed if they are stored on the computer etc.

Possible Solution for 2) Is it best to have a centralised 'cloud' server like a MS exchange server for people to log into everyday to access their emails?

3) We are wanting to set up more e-learning facilities like video, audio files, what is the best way to store them? Should we have our own web server? store them on a place like youtube? any other suggestions?

Basically with all of the above I need some information as to whether its necessary to get a business server and a Microsoft exchange server and a web server or just some. Would a private cloud system do the job? how much to they cost? Any other suggestions?

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3 Answers 3

I need some information as to whether its necessary to get a business server and a Microsoft exchange server and a web server or just some.

Yes. You need Microsoft Exchange. It does everything you want. You can have multiple users connected to the same exchange inbox from their own personal computers, and they can all see which messages have been read, sent, replied, etc, in real time. Exchange 2010 even allows you to have multiple exchange accounts open, so they can have the shared account AND their personal exchange account open at the same time.

Your problems are the exact problems Exchange fixes. Central mailbox that follows you around. Scheduling. Shared inboxes. Delegates. Great web mail client.

You do not need to buy your own servers to do this. Or even really know what you're doing. There are plenty of hosted exchange systems out there, but we don't really do shopping reccomendations on Server Fault, so we can't provide you with precise suggestions. But what you CAN do is ask "What should I look for when shopping for hosted exchange systems" and we can give you some metrics on how to compare providers.

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WOW, thats alot of work to be done

I would suggest a few Servers in the main office, 1) for AD and file storage 2) Exchange Server You can combine these into one server by using Windows SBS Server 3) Terminal Server for outside offices to remote in to. I would also suggest a high end Router with VPN capability, Remotes VPN in and then log into the Terminal Server

You tube would work great for your training material unless you are talking large files, I think there is a limit on Youtube.

Outside users can get there emails via Exchange connector in their outlook, or remote in and get it via the Terminal Server with the prior being the best option.

HTH

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How about for $50 you can sign up for a single Google Apps hosted account, point all of your Outlook clients towards that one account, and use that same account to centrally all of your files via Google Docs. That way, you can have anyone work from anywhere with no more than a web browser and still be effective. Zero servers needed, and a single $50/year investment. With that same Google Apps account, you can also store video, etc., for your training.

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