The term exchange hosting refers to a service in the telecommunications industry whereby a provider makes an e-mail box and space available on a server so its clients can host their data on the server. The provider manages the hosted data of its clients on the server. Clients can access their emails, address book, task management, and documents from different places and through various media. The e-mails are routed to a laptop or mobile phone through push technology.

The prerequisite for the use of this function is an exchange server. The market leader is the Microsoft Exchange Server, but there are also other providers. The messaging system works regardless of network size, both in the intranet and the internet and uses MAPI to enable the collaboration between groups.

Companies that have their own IT department can also manage their own exchange servers. Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client-server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Servers line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products.

Microsoft Exchange Server can also be purchased as a hosted service from a number of providers. Though Exchange Hosting has been around for more than 10 years, it is only recently that many providers have been marketing the service as “Cloud Computing” or Software-as-a-Service. Exchange Hosting allows for Microsoft Exchange Server to be running in the Internet also called the Cloud and managed by a “Hosted Exchange Server provider” instead of building and deploying the system in-house.

Microsoft Exchange Online is an email, calendar and contacts solution delivered as a cloud service, hosted by Microsoft. It is essentially the same service offered by hosted Exchange providers and it is built on the same technologies as Microsoft Exchange Server. Exchange Online provides end users with a familiar email experience across PCs, the Web, and mobile devices while giving IT administrators or small businesses and professional’s web-based tools for managing their online deployment.

Exchange's major features consist of electronic mail, calendaring, contacts, and tasks; that work with Microsoft Outlook on PC and Mac, wireless synchronization of email, calendar, contacts with major mobile devices and browser-based access to information; and support for data storage.

Exchange servers are managed in data centers, while software is managed, including downloads and upgrades, along with customer support.

With a large number of companies providing Exchange Hosting choosing the one that's suited to your business needs is no simple task. By comparing the features side by side, you should be able to get a clearer picture of each solution and decide which would be the best for you.