Organisations have shown a reluctance to upgrade to Exchange 2010 -- but they could be missing out on some cost-saving improvements.
A Plan-Net survey found that 87% of organisations are currently using Exchange 2003 or earlier. There has been a reluctance to adopt the 2007 version, often considered to be the Vista of the server platform -- faulty and dispensable. But an upgrade to a modern, improved version is now becoming crucial: Standard support for the 2003 version ended more than a year ago, and much technological progress has been made since then.
It seems that unconvinced organisations need some good reasons to move from their well-known but obsolete system to the new and improved 2010 version, where business continuity and resilience are easier to obtain and virtualisation can be embraced, with all the benefits that follow. Here are 10 reasons your organisation should migrate to Exchange 2010.
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1: Continuous replication
International research shows that companies lose £10,000/$10,000 an hour to email downtime. This version of Exchange enables continuous replication of data, which can minimise disruptions dramatically and spare organisations from such loss. Moreover, Microsoft reckons the costs of deploying Exchange 2010 can be recouped within six months thanks in part to the improvements in business continuity.
Exchange 2010 supports virtualisation, allowing consolidation. Server virtualisation is not only a cost cutter, reducing expenditure related to maintenance, support staff, power, cooling, and space. It also improves business continuity -- when a virtual machine is down, computers can run on another virtual machine with no downtime.
3: Cost savings on storageExchange 2010 has, according to Microsoft, 70% less disk I/O (input/output) than Exchange 2007. For this reason, the firm recommends moving away from SAN storage solutions and adopting less expensive direct attached storage. This translates to real and significant cost savings for most businesses.
4: Larger mailboxes
Coupling the ability to use larger, slower SATA (or SAS) disks with changes to the underlying mailbox database architecture means that far larger mailbox sizes will become the norm.
5: Voicemail transcription
Unified Messaging, first introduced with Exchange 2007, offers the concept of the "universal inbox," where email and voice mail are available from a single location and consequently accessed from any of the following clients:
- Outlook 2007 and later
- Outlook Web App
- Outlook Voice Access -- access from any phone
- Windows Mobile 6.5 or later devices
A new feature to Exchange 2010, Voicemail Preview, sees text-transcripts of voicemails being received, saving the time it takes to listen to the message. Upon reception of a voice message, the receiver can glance at the preview and decide whether it is an urgent matter. This and other improvements, such as managing voice and email from a single directory (using AD), offer organisations the opportunity to discard third-party voicemail solutions in favour of Exchange 2010.
6: Help desk cost reduction
Exchange 2010 offers potential to reduce help desk costs by enabling users to perform common tasks that would normally require a help desk call. Role-based Access control (RBAC) allows delegation based on job function which, coupled with the Web-based Exchange Control Panel (ECP), enables users to assume responsibility for distribution lists, update personal information held in AD, and track messages. This reduces the call volumes placed on the help desk, with obvious financial benefits.
7: High(er) Availability
Exchange 2010 builds upon the continuous replication technologies first introduced in Exchange 2007. The technology is far simpler to deploy than Exchange 2007, as the complexities of a cluster install are taken away from the administrator. It incorporates easily with existing mailbox servers and offers protection at the database -- with Database Availability Groups - rather than the server level. By supporting automatic failover, this feature allows faster recovery times than previously.
8: Native archiving
A large hole in previous Exchange offerings was the lack of a native managed archive solution. This saw either the proliferation of unmanaged PSTs or the expense of deploying third-party solutions. With the advent of Exchange 2010 -- and in particular the upcoming arrival of SP1 this year -- a basic archiving suite is now available out-of-the-box.
9: Running on-premise or in the cloud
Exchange 2010 offers organisations the option to run Exchange on-premise or in the cloud. This approach even allows organisations to run some mailboxes in the cloud and some on locally held Exchange resources. This offers companies very competitive rates for mailbox provision from cloud providers for key mailboxes, whilst deciding how much control to relinquish by still hosting most mailboxes on local servers.
10: Easier calendar sharing
With Federation for Exchange 2010, employees can share calendars and distribution lists with external recipients more easily. The application allows them to schedule meetings with partners and customers as if they belonged to the same organisation. This might not appeal to every organisation, but those investing in collaboration technologies will see the value Exchange 2010 offers.
Taking the leap
Due to the uncertain economy, many organisations are wary of investing their tight budgets in projects deemed unessential. However, if they follow the "more with less" rule and invest in some good service management for their IT service desk, the resulting cost savings will free resources that can be invested in this type of asset. The adoption of Exchange 2010, in turn, will allow more efficient use of IT by end users and help the service desk run more smoothly, thus engaging in a cycle of reciprocal benefits.
Keith Smith is Senior Consultant at Plan-Net.