With the downsizing that's occurred in most IT departments these days, many of us find it difficult to get everything done. So how can you justify taking time out to work with a beta version of a product? In the case of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, time spent doing an evaluation now could be worth it down the road.
Exchange 2003, expected during the third quarter of this year, adds features that make migrating from Exchange 5.5 easier and more reliable. It also makes backing out of a botched migration easier by providing schema rollback tools. If you haven't already made the move to Exchange 2000, evaluate Exchange 2003 to see if migrating directly to it makes sense for your organization.
New server consolidation features may also make a migration to Exchange 2003 more affordable. The consolidation feature set includes support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSCS). VSCS provides a Microsoft-supported means of making online "snapshot" copies of your databases. This means that database backup and restore is virtually instantaneous on supported hardware. If you were planning to upgrade your backup hardware, the capabilities of VSCS might alter those upgrade plans.
You can read more about Exchange Server 2003 and download the Exchange 2003 Trial Software at the Microsoft Exchange Server Web site. Take the time to load and test Exchange 2003 in a lab environment. Gaining an appreciation for the new features and enhancements in Exchange 2003 could help you sell the migration idea to management and make your life easier.