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Forefront Online Protection for Exchange
INSIDE OUT SLAs: More than meets the eye
When we meet with customers who are evaluating Office 365, they often tell us that
99.9 percent is really low for an industry standard. Some customers also say they have
a greater than a 99.9 percent uptime requirement. During such conversations, we share
two important things. The first is that the 99.9 percent is an SLA metric, not an
engineering design. The SLA states that Microsoft is obligated to meet at least a 99.9
percent uptime. More often than not, the service surpasses 99.9 percent availability. The
second thing we bring up is that there is a distinct difference between stating an SLA
and meeting an SLA. Most organizations do not have the benefit of a geo-redundant
footprint and the type of infrastructure to maximize the chances of meeting the SLA.
In many cases, not meeting an internal SLA does not result in significant penalties aside
from unhappy users. This is definitely not like the financial penalties that bind Microsoft.
Furthermore, most SLAs exclude planned maintenance times; therefore, it might not be
an equivalent comparison. It is not that the organizations’ IT professionals are unable to
maintain an Exchange environment, it is just that there is no comparison to Exchange
Online because of the level of investment coupled with the technical expertise derived
directly from Microsoft, the manufacturer of the Exchange technology. As you can see,
Exchange Online is easily the best hosted Exchange service available in the market
because of these unique characteristics of Office 365.
While service availability is very important, an often under-discussed topic is the speed
of service restoration if a natural disaster destroys a data center. This is where the value
of geo-redundancy comes into play. In the event that a disaster destroys a data center,
Exchange Online is able to restore email services within one hour. This metric is known as
the Recovery Time Objective (RTO). For Exchange Online, the RTO is only one hour because
of the geo-redundant nature of the data centers.
Another closely related metric to RTO is the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RPO
measures the amount of data at risk in the event of a disaster. For example, if an organization
without geo-redundancy does backups every evening and the backup ends at 5:00 A.M. in
the morning, if disaster strikes at noon, then the RPO for the organization is seven hours. In
contrast, the geo-redundant and active-active configuration of Exchange Online makes it
possible for a near instantaneous RPO.
Forefront Online Protection for Exchange
FOPE has the following key features:
99.999 percent financially backed uptime guarantee
100 percent protection against all known viruses
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