Exchange 2010 Migration Survey: Complexity, Clouds & Silver Linings…

We ran a survey of 590 IT Professionals at Exchange Connections 2010 in Las Vegas last month, from organizations of all sizes and sectors, asking them about their Microsoft Exchange Infrastructure and their plans to upgrade to the Microsoft Exchange 2010.

Exchange 2010 brings important advances to the email infrastructure and many organizations are looking forward to upgrading as soon as they can. Even with these new features the results of our survey show that overall email management remains a complex and resource intensive task and that could be holding up one of the most significant Exchange releases in a number of years.

Just 20% of IT Administrators surveyed have adopted Exchange 2010 to date- is that a really low number considering how long it has been released?

Although 51% are planning to upgrade to Exchange 2010 in the next 12 months, many people are still unsure what the real benefits will be. Just over 8% believe that its most valuable benefit will be simplified compliance.

From what I’ve seen of Exchange 2010, the rest of you are in for a pleasant surprise.

(The full survey results and analysis can be found here- registration required)

The results in more detail

Surprisingly spam and email security remain the biggest problem, even today when we largely think that spam is an old and well understood. As a result 50% of respondent organizations said they had at least two solutions for email, 20% said they had at least three. So are we really still dealing with the age-old problems?

The good news is that some 68% of you plan to upgrade to Exchange 2010 within the next two years, and around 51% within a year. That's accelerated- about 13%- from our earlier Exchange Adoption report (registration required). However it looks like many people are worried about the resources required to achieve this.

We found that just over 25% of respondents said they didn't have enough IT resources to tackle the migration.

The key question surely must be: have messaging architectures become too complex to adopt new technology with the resources available in house? This research certainly suggests things have become that way.

And in our day to day work  helping customers with Exchange, we often find that it’s the multitude of systems added to Exchange over the years, to solve single issues such as security or archiving, that create the complexity.  And the net result of all these additions is an architecture that is brittle, and is not resilient to change.  Administrators cannot be certain of the knock-on effects of one change to the rest of the systems, and are then faced with an impossible dilemma - upgrade at the potential cost of downtime or disruption, or stay put.   Their hands are tied by complexity.

Can you see why we're obsessed with helping IT admins chase complexity out of their email systems?

Looking forward to Exchange 2010, we see that the most anticipated benefit of 2010 is the Enhanced Availability thanks to the new storage architecture of DAG's etc. Yet this is in contrast to the 12% of respondents that told us that continuity was the most significant email challenge. Luckily those of you who had migrated agreed with us, the enhanced availability was the biggest bonus. I wonder why continuity is far down the list of proposed improvements yet top of realised improvements? One for another post I think.

So what next?

What are the ways of maximizing the investment in Exchange 2010?

  • Look for ways to simplify your messaging architecture to enable you to adopt new technologies faster, be more agile and deliver more value. Chase complexity out of the system- not introduce it.
  • Before migration is the time to get rid of any complexity that could cause downtime during a migration. Getting your mail architecture lean and mean before tackling the migration will reduce opportunities for disruption. For example Exchange MVP Nic Blank says: "Archive before you migrate".
  • In the same vane- make email system integration a priority. Review your policies and procedures, take the opportunity of upgrading to Exchange 2010 to review more than just the application or OS. Bring everything together to reduce risk and dissolve complexity.
  • Consider leveraging the cloud for more than just storage. And the Cloud is not an all or nothing move either- there are ways to use Exchange 2010 on-premise, hosted or BPOS with Cloud services to extend its functionality and reduce cost- such as Continuity and Archive.