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We currently have our email and website hosted with a service provider and are looking to move our email hosting to Google Apps for Business because it is impacting our website availability. Instead of upgrading our hosting requirements, we want to utilise the Google Apps for Business products to also handle our document management.

From what I have read, I am unsure if the Gmail is simply a pointer to our existing Exchange hosted with our current service provider or whether we can move our email completely over to Gmail.

Can Google Apps for Business replace our hosted Exchange service?

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Gmail can certainly replace your current email provider. Your users get their own mailboxes within Google's infrastructure, so you can retire your Exchange service.

The recommended way of migrating from Exchange to Google Apps for Business involve:

  1. Set up the user accounts you need in Google Apps for Business
  2. Set up forwarding from your Exchange server to Gmail
  3. Import the existing messages from your Exchange server to to Google Apps for Business. Now you have essentially identical accounts on Exchange on Google Apps for Business.
  4. Gradually tell your users to stop using Outlook/Exchange, and use Gmail instead
  5. When everyone has switched over, and things look OK, change the MX records for your domain to point to Gmali
  6. Retire your Exchange server

A more verbose version of this recipe is available from Google.

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