Time to Evaluate Your Email Platform

By Joseph Schieffer

 

Communication through email is an organization’s lifeblood and critical to the operations of any business.  With Microsoft ending support for Exchange 2003 and 2007, now is a critical time to take a fresh look at your options and architect your next steps.

 

Total Cost of Ownership:

While evaluating your options you should be looking at the total cost of ownership.   Besides the software cost per seat, one important variable is support.    Support costs include updates, ongoing maintenance and the need for extended support should all be considered.

 

With this bit of knowledge, consider your current Exchange environment.  Microsoft ended support for Exchange 2003 in 2009, and the extended support for 2003 is ending on March 8th, 2014.  Exchange Server 2007 support has ended and extended support is scheduled to end in November, 2017.  This means if you have Exchange 2003 you are already paying a much higher cost to maintain that environment.  If you have Exchange 2007, you have just moved into a higher cost bracket and will it continue to at your IT budget.

 

This may just be the perfect time to consider taking those “maintenance” dollars and consider rolling them into an upgrade project.

 

If your business is currently operating Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007 there are a number of low-cost migration options.  We recommend taking a look at Google Apps, Exchange 2010, Office 365 (Exchange Online) or a hybrid deployment.  Office 365 includes the online services of Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online  and the monthly user fee is extremely attractive.

 

Hosted Options - Google Apps and Exchange Online

Want to reduce the time and effort ($$) spent managing email servers?  Then this is the way to go.  Exchange Online and Google Apps simplify the management of email and provide anywhere access to staff.

 

Exchange 2010 on-Premises

For organizations utilizing Exchange 2003 or 2007 on-premises, a migration to Exchange 2010, Exchange Online or a hybrid of Exchange 2010 and Exchange Online is the most likely choice given the familiarity with the Exchange platform. Exchange 2010 is significantly more robust than Exchange 2003 and provides several fully built out features that were only partially included in Exchange 2007 (link to feature comparison of Exchange 2003, 2007, and 2010).

 

On-Premises vs. Hosted Exchange

You will want to compare the features of Exchange 2010 and Exchange Online and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each to determine the platform that is best suited for you.  We generally advise our clients to strongly consider hosted solutions due to the reliability and lower total cost of ownership.

 

Exchange 2013 Preview

Microsoft has not published the release date of Exchange 2013 but you can see the upgrade features and download a preview on TechNet.

 

Summary

Mainstream support for Exchange 2003 and 2007 has now ended which means the cost of continuing to use these software platforms is going to continue to get bigger.  The availability of hosted solutions that have low licensing costs should be evaluated due to their reliability and cost advantages over on-premises solutions.

 

A business’ email platform strategy (or lack thereof) can have a significant impact on communication, productivity, security, and IT expenses.  Now is the time to take a look at where you have been and where you want to go with your email platform.

 

Joseph Schieffer is a Solutions Architect at Uncommon Solutions, a Preferred Service Provider of the Colorado League of Charter Schools.