Migrating from Microsoft Exchange 2003...

October 2003; seven years and a couple of months ago. A long time in the life of many things, especially technology. There are several sites dotted around the web that list the major events that occurred in the year 2003, I'll let you discover those for yourself, but a few key moments you might remember were:

  • Apple launched iTunes
  • Concord made its last commercial flight
  • 50 million people on the East Coast lose power

Of course October 2003 is also when Microsoft launched Exchange 2003, the fifth version of the popular Microsoft Exchange Server. When you think about that in relation to the other events I've mentioned it seems like a long time ago doesn't it?

Yet even today some organisations are still holding onto Exchange 2003 with no solid plans to upgrade. I've been thinking about these issues a lot since I helped author a whitepaper on how to migrate Exchange successfully (registration required).

Are the benefits of Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 clear enough? Of course some organizations are reliant on custom applications that might not support an upgrade of Microsoft Exchange (I thought we'd all learnt that lesson with Exchange 5.5?) and if that is the case, you have my sympathies.

For the rest of you who don't have an excuse, I often find the problem lies in a combination of cost and complexity.

Or, more accurately complexity and cost, as the cost is a product of the complexity. It's a factor of corporate caution that puts a huge amount of effort and protection into these projects to make sure every eventuality is covered and nothing goes wrong (read downtime).

Why the complexity? Well it's organic. We've grown up with the environment, we've added solutions and services on a regular basis, and now we're standing at the foot of a towering mountain of IT solutions. Upgrading a central component of all that technology instantly becomes a much larger project than we first anticipated, probably requiring more resources and more budget than our first estimate.

That's why 25% of your peers said that you don't have the resources to perform the upgrade- they're stuck in a sea of complexity- IT getting the blame for everything whereas it's the business not giving IT budget. (The full survey results and analysis can be found here- registration required)

But they're now two versions of Exchange Server behind with mainstream support already at an end, and extended support due to end in 2014 - people are going to need to find a way to tackle this problem soon.