Moving to Microsoft Exchange 2000 from either Exchange 5.5 or other messaging systems such as Lotus Domino or ccMail, or Novell’s GroupWise, raises many questions and issues that must be resolved for a successful transition. This article focuses on upgrades to your infrastructure and software that can help you ensure a smooth migration.

Second of three parts

This is the second part of a three-part overview of how to plan and implement a migration to Exchange 2000. To read the first article, which covers planning the migration, click here. Part three will cover training and implementation.

Upgrading the infrastructure
When preparing for an Exchange 2000 migration, infrastructure issues can make or break the project. Exchange 2000 will require certain changes, and you may wish to make other enhancements to take advantage of new capabilities. Infrastructure involves many aspects of your environment, including the following:

  • Network operating system: Ideally, you’ll want to have completed your migration to Windows 2000 prior to installing Exchange 2000. However, because upgrading completely is unrealistic for many organizations, it is not absolutely necessary. Microsoft supports coexistence between Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, and between Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000, so you can gradually upgrade both if need be. If you’re able to successfully complete your Windows 2000 migration first, however, it will mean that all of your TCP/IP infrastructure is robust and reliable, that your domain name system (DNS) is in place and functioning properly, and that Active Directory is functioning, all of which are key elements that will smooth the way for migration.
  • Server hardware: Although Exchange 5.5 ran on fairly modest hardware levels, Exchange 2000 requires significantly more hardware: 700+-MHz PIII/1 GB of RAM/30-GB disk. In addition, you might want to take the opportunity to ensure that your hardware is optimized in accordance with Microsoft’s best practices for optimal performance. Finally, with the enhanced capabilities and stability of Exchange 2000, many organizations will be looking to consolidate their Exchange instances onto fewer but more capable servers. If you’re such a candidate, you’ll need to prepare for the possibility of new server hardware.
  • WAN upgrades: Migrating from an earlier version of Exchange to 2000 won’t pose any additional burdens on your wide area network (WAN), but if you are using the migration as an opportunity to consolidate sites, you will need to upgrade the WAN portion of your infrastructure to ensure optimum performance.
  • Archival upgrades: The new information stores in Exchange 2000 will have little or no impact on your backup strategy or infrastructure unless you’re planning on partitioning the stores. With Exchange 2000 (Enterprise Edition only), you can now service multiple information stores, or as Microsoft terms them, “storage groups” (SG). Each Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server can support up to four SGs, and each SG can have up to five databases, for a total of 4-TB maximum storage capability. According to Microsoft, the new SGs will offer much greater flexibility, scalability, and reliability. But all this will come at a price—and will also have potentially significant implications for your backup and recovery strategy and resources.
  • Clustering: Exchange 2000’s support for clustering is much improved over Exchange 5.5, prompting some organizations that have previously shied away from it to rethink clustering. Do remember, however, to factor clustering into your upgrade costs should you decide to exercise this option.
  • Desktop/laptop upgrade costs: If you’re not planning on using the much-improved Outlook Web Access (OWA) as your Exchange client, you must seriously consider upgrading your desktop clients to either Outlook 2000 or 2002 (only bundled with Office XP). The added stability of Outlook 2000 and its improved encryption capabilities (over Outlook 9x) designate it as essential software. Plan for about a week to develop and test an automated deployment and about 30 minutes per PC for installation.

Software upgrades
Determining the cost of upgrading your messaging software to Exchange 2000 can be somewhat complicated, depending on what you are upgrading from and/or to. (See Microsoft’s site for a detailed pricing and licensing matrix.) Here are some factors you’ll need to consider when figuring the cost of software upgrades:

  • Exchange 2000 Server licensing: Each of your servers will need to have upgrade licensing, but if you originally purchased CALs with your server, it may lead to a higher upgrade cost. Also, if you’re planning to deploy Exchange Conference server, be aware that it is considered a separate product and will not be covered by your Exchange server license upgrade.
  • Exchange Client Access Licensing (CAL): Although Microsoft requires that you have a license on each machine or device that will access the Exchange server, Microsoft puts no restriction on the client software you can use to access Exchange and does not require a CAL for anonymous, nonauthenticated access. With respect to your client software, Microsoft requires that you purchase a Version Upgrade, or VUP, for each client. Your VUP represents the cost per client to access the Exchange database. Even if you have paid for CALs in the past, you’ll need to factor in an additional charge when upgrading to Exchange 2000.
  • Third-party software: Many organizations often overlook upgrading third-party software during an Exchange 2000 migration. Antivirus, faxing, and document-management software are three obvious areas that come to mind, but you’ll also need to consider any workflow applications. For example, if you are using the Exchange AutoAccept script to process resource bookings, or if you have any custom-written workflow applications, they need to be carefully tested and either migrated or dropped. You can simply upgrade off-the-shelf software, on the other hand, by buying and installing the latest version.

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