Complexity fears holding back Exchange 2010 upgrade?

By complexity; I mean the tangle of technology that has grown up around the Exchange server - all of those point solutions that have been added over the years to solve individual problems. All of the extra email management servers, the blinking lights, content filters, archives, disk arrays, AV/AS boxes, email encryption applications and other bells and/or whistles that are needed to keep the Exchange server up, running and efficient.

In the last blog post of my Microsoft Exchange mini-series I suggested the idea that the complexity that surrounds a core Microsoft Exchange server might be what is causing some trepidation when it comes to upgrades.

I understand that my post might have caused some alarm: In fact one IT manager emailed me to say he had never really considered all of those other solutions as a collective complex problem. He told me that each point solution was managed by different members of his team, and even other departments in some cases (like legal and professional standards for example), and that everyone just got on with the job.

Is there a collective noun for email management applications and tools? If there isn't I'd like to suggest a a few; a "Hectic" or perhaps a "Chaos", or maybe a "Delicate"? Answers on a post card please - the best suggestion wins a Mimecast complexity monster t-shirt.

This complexity we're talking about is a bit of an old money solution isn't it? I often ask CIOs what they would do if they were setting up a greenfield site; would they replicate what they've got or would they do it differently? They usually say something along the lines of; if only I knew then what I know now, when referring back to the problems they've had to patch up over the years. Of course with hindsight we wouldn't re-create the past.

The complexity problem is one that affects many businesses.  Very few IT departments can really say they have designed out all their complexity. Upgrading central pieces of infrastructure, like Microsoft Exchange is undoubtedly an ominous task when you're surrounded by stacks of supporting applications. Perhaps as you consider a Microsoft Exchange upgrade, hopefully to Exchange 2010, you'll take a look at all those point solutions in your network; the vast array of blinking lights on that complex email management infrastructure and you'll think that there must be a better way of doing this.

Maybe you'll take this as the best opportunity you've got to 'toss out the tin,' get rid of those point solutions in an effort to iron out the complexity that has been handed down from generation to generation. The complexity problem isn't one that is going to go away on it's own, in fact the more patching, upgrading, installing and problem solving that goes on - the worse it will get and the larger that sprawl will become.

Now is the time to take a step back and look at what's 'become' - then really & honestly decide what you can do to remove that complexity. What have you got to lose, apart from those pretty blinking lights - the blue ones were my favorite.

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