Apple provides a very robust and sound sync environment through iCloud. Using Caldav and Carddav the protocols are excellent for calendar and contacts sync’g (unfortunately Office for the Mac 2011 doesn’t support this). This wasn’t always the case. When Apple used sync services, sync was a bit of a nightmare. It wasn’t unusual to get duplicate records and even lost data.
This is by no means the case today. Regardless, Apple built into the ecosystem support for Microsoft’s Exchange as this is a very important system to support. Exchange is primarily found in the business environment for a variety of reasons and up until recently I would say primarily big business. With the introduction of Office 365, a very good but slightly confusing system (there’s many Office 365 systems), Exchange is now found in small and medium size business’ as it is cost effective.
Before 365 the cost to buy and maintain servers was out of reach for small business. Now it is clearly not. This is a very cost effective system. Really, you are simply renting a server seat from Microsoft. You still are the master of your own system but no longer do you need worry about high costs for servers or hiring maintenance people. Microsoft runs the servers and maintains them. And who better to do that than the people that created the system.
You’re IOS/Mac environment can actually support both Exchange and iCloud concurrently. You might do this if you have a lot of contacts on iCloud e.g. Addressbook/Busycal and a lot of work contacts you want access to on your system through your Mac software. Unfortunately, if you use Office for the Mac, it is using the old sync services protocol and there is no way to sync Outlook on the iCloud side and therefore use it in your software scheme.
There’s another approach some take to this which is totally viable. You run everything on you Office 365 system. This works perfectly fine and your iPad and iPhone will be in perfect sync with your Mac and even your Mac running Windows on say Parallels.
There are some good reasons to do this. From a business perspective, you might be running your productivity system on Office 365. In this case, rather than running two systems it might make more sense to run it on your 365 system. However, some businesses would be uncomfortable with employees mixing personal with business stuff. This you’d have to check into.
Hosting your e-mail system with Microsoft
If you have a business and a web site for your business that will exist on a domain you might want to use Microsoft‘s Office 365 for a very key function. Many companies that host domains and business sites, like WordPress, don’t host the email. For that you have to go elsewhere. The email ID can take on the business domains credentials you just have to find a company that does this.
Microsoft hosts business email from a web domain. If you use Microsoft for these purposes and your email is on Exchange, then it makes sense often, again if this is possible, just to sync everything through your Office 365 system. You’ll be able to take care of everything on you Exchange system such as your email, calendars, contacts, reminders and notes.
Exchange is a mature system so its operation is extremely robust. It‘s unlikely, say, that you’d end up with double entries or lost data from a sync.
Regardless, even if you can’t run everything on Exchange, you can run both Exchange and iCloud on your Apple gear. Further, as I’ve pointed out in other articles, you can run Windows on your Apple gear seamlessly. The need for this is waning though as Apple is continuing to make inroads into markets it wasn’t in before.
Flexibility is the keyword Here
Flexibility is the operative keyword here. The system that I’ve sketched out is very flexible no matter how you decide to slice and dice this. You can use your Mac fully in a Microsoft hosted business system as just a Mac sync’g fully through Exchange. You can also run Windows on your Mac if you’re more comfortable using that environment yet with yet you would have to the ability to take advantage of the Mac advantages while running windows. Finally, you can run your Mac running both Exchange and iCloud ensuring that you’re able to take advantage of all your solutions. You’re not locked out of one environment if you choose the other.
If you have a business web system you’ll likely want your email with that domain‘s name. You’ll like want your email hosted through a provider that can do that and Microsoft can. If it seems a little complex it is but in the case of an Apple/Microsoft solution you’re bringing a lot to the table.
As I go a long I’ll explore this topic further. There’s not necessarily a clash of the titans here but rather a potential synergy that I’m not sure has been well explored. I’ll just conclude by saying that there is nothing theoretically to prevent you from sync’g all your key data using Office 365 and Microsoft’s Exchange.