Migrating to Exchange 2000 from Exchange 5.5 or another messaging system is a project of significant scope. As such, it requires careful planning. The initial planning, as well as consideration of infrastructure and software upgrades, have been the subjects of earlier articles. This article will cover client training, project implementation, and a look at the total cost.
Last of three parts
This is the third article in a series covering Exchange 2000 migration. The first article in the series covers planning the migration, while part two focuses on infrastructure and software upgrades.
How will your move to Exchange 2000 affect your users? Obviously, there will be a need for training; the requirements will vary depending on the technical savvy of your users and whether or not you are upgrading their desktop Exchange client software.
Tailoring your training to suit your staff is good customer service, and it can save you money. Why send everybody on a full-day training course when all that’s needed is a quick reference guide or an introduction to the online help?
I propose looking at training as the classic bell-shaped curve, with severely technology-challenged users at one end of the scale and power users at the other. Ten percent of your staff members won’t ever use any training. The reasons vary, depending on which end of the spectrum they’re on.
Another 10 percent will only want some form of written or online material. You can develop it yourself so it is highly customized for your organization, or you can purchase off-the-shelf material. If you choose the latter, allow $15 to $20 per copy. If it’s the former, budget at least one week for authoring.
Developing a comprehensive implementation plan is an extremely involved effort. Although the details of such a project plan are beyond the scope of this article, I can offer some general tips that I hope will be helpful.
When forming your plan, keep in mind the basics of "Project Management 101": Activities, resources, and schedule are all part of an equilateral triangle. If any one side of the triangle changes, so too must the other sides. Be realistic in your estimates, and remember, you can rarely overcommunicate. I have found that my most successful projects were the ones where I communicated the best.
Undoubtedly, you’ve enlisted the help of competent resources who have gone through the process previously. If you don’t have a detailed plan, or if you have one and you’d like to validate it against the upgrade guide from Microsoft, check out "A Guide to Upgrading from MS Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange 2000 Server."
Another useful Microsoft reference is "Exchange 2000 in Six Steps." Be sure to download and read the 51-page document SixSteps.doc, also found at that site.
Planning your Exchange 2000 migration will give you a lot to think about; nobody ever said that upgrading was easy. For additional online information about migrating, check out Microsoft’s Exchange page. There you’ll find a seemingly endless amount of material related to migrating, features, training, and support options targeted at various audiences but generally skewed towards the technical professional.
There are also several excellent books on the market. These are not for the faint of heart and will typically weigh in at a pound or more. When evaluating what looks good, avoid the ones that are strictly for exam cramming. While they serve their purpose, they are not going to provide too much educational material related to planning and deployment. Also, avoid the ones that are strictly application reference guides. These are great for troubleshooting, once you’ve migrated, but they don’t offer much benefit with respect to planning and deployment.
One footnote worth mentioning: If you are upgrading from Exchange 5.5, Microsoft recommends that you should be at least at Service Pack 3 and preferably Service Pack 4. If you are not already at SP3 for Exchange, you’ll need to do that first, so factor that into your overall project upgrade. By all accounts, the SP3 and SP4 upgrades run flawlessly.
Finally, at your project’s conclusion, ask yourself this question: How much of what was learned during the project would you like to retain within your organization? If you operate strictly from an outsourced model, chances are you care little about how much information is retained for future reference. If, on the other hand, you operate from an in-sourced model or mixture of internal and external resources, you will probably want to ensure that a good portion of the knowledge gained during the project is transferred to internal staff.
A final look at cost
To pull together all the information I have discussed in this series, I have prepared a migration cost chart that you may find useful. Bear in mind that the duration of staff employment on this project will vary considerably depending on the size and scope of your upgrade.
The estimates provided in Figure A are based on a fictitious migration for 15 servers (12 single, two enterprise, one conference), 2000 clients (all CAL upgrades), in 12 locations. All clients are already running Outlook 2000. For simplicity’s sake in this example, all servers are new but stand-alone (i.e., no clustering) and use DASD (rather than SAN or NAS devices). Five are workgroup class servers, seven are branch-office size, and the remaining three are enterprise class servers. Lastly, Microsoft prices are rounded up marginally to simplify calculations.
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