This will be kind of a big update, but I wanted to write down all the key things I did – for my own records, and it may also help someone else too.
As discussed, I finally moved off my old-fashioned webhost and moved onto Microsoft Azure for host a few domains. I moved robseder.com, robertseder.com, and moved my WordPress blog from the robseder.wordpress.com site to http://blog.robertseder.com (as you probably know, because that is where this blog post lives!)
Tonight after work, I moved www.sedersoftware.com. This was a bit more complexticated because this is a real, ASP.NET MVC website plus I also needed to move mail.
For mail, before, I used the built-in mail server with my old web host, and I just had that forward an “rseder” account on to a real mail account. With Azure, from what I can tell, there is no e-mail support at all. So, if you host a domain there – there is no “webmail” that comes with it.
You might immediately think: “Well, that’s kind of lame!” – but consider that BOTH Microsoft and Google offer FREE hosting of your e-mail (plus calendar, plus IM, etc). That really is the smarter way, isn’t it? In other words, by just following a few steps (and making some DNS changes) – you can log into gmail or outlook with your company branding, and let those companies manage your mail/calendar/IM, for free.
OPTION 1: Microsoft/Outlook managing e-mail for your domain – go to http://domains.live.com/
OPTION 2: Google/Gmail managing e-mail for your domain – go to http://www.googleapps.com and choose to start up the free “Google Apps” – and it is pretty straight-forward:
This ultimately gives you branding too – see: http://mail.google.com/a/sedersoftware.com?hl=en
Now, I chose gmail in my case, because I ultimately consolidate everything into an @live.com e-mail account. Microsoft, chooses to not let you pull from OTHER Microsoft accounts (like, via POP3). So, I am using gmail, so that I can pull down those messages and merge them into one place.
In other words, I use a gmail account to consolidate all my OTHER live.com and hotmail.com e-mails, and then I pull down that gmail account to my main @live.com address. This is why I say “send it to any e-mail address you have for me, it will eventually get to my inbox”
OK, so onto the nitty-gritty – and believe-you-me, there is some nit, as well as grit. When you first sign-up for Google Apps, it asks for the domain name. Ultimately, I needed to add a CNAME record, and two TXT records (one regular and one SPF)
Google has a nifty little app that helps, here: https://toolbox.googleapps.com/ (click on “Check MX”) – it will tell you what the problems are, and how to fix them:
So, I logged into networksolutions.com where I have my domains hosted, and edited my DNS settings – and added what google said to add, and it all magically worked!
If I were going to actually use this e-mail account, I would take the time to point mail.sedersoftware.com to the proper gmail URL that shows the branding too, but I don’t need it in my case.
Lastly, if you want to pull down messages from this now-Gmail-managed mailbox, here are the GMail POP3 and IMAP settings: http://www.emailaddressmanager.com/tips/outlook-gmail.html
I’m REALLY surprised at how smooth all of this went, AND and how literally everything I did in the past couple of days has been FREE! This can’t be overstated how cool this e-mail service is. Both Google and Microsoft offer this for free. This gives you secure e-mail, calendar and groups (so it can look/act like a private e-mail at a small company) and instant messenger. For a small company, it is amazing to me that you can easily set this up for FREE and have almost professional-level e-mail, calendaring, and IM from these vendors. That is VERY cool!