I’m sure by now that you’ll all have read the EHLO post announcing that Exchange 2013 has reached the point on its journey where it is now “generally available” (GA). In other words, the code is available for download on TechNet and should be easy to get hold of through other channels, such as local distributors.
Reaching GA used to be an extremely important point in a product’s lifecycle. However, given that we live in a world where downloads are the usual way to get software, it’s less important now than it was when you had to wait for DVDs, or even worse, floppy disks, to be physically available. I still have the set of six disks used to distribute Word 6.0, kept perhaps to remind me that activities such as software procurement and testing are a lot easier now.
Now that Exchange 2013 is “out in the wild”, I imagine that there will be an uptick in test activity as people install and play with the new software and figure out whether issues such as the reduction in the number of databases that a server can mount are important to you.
Of course, it’s all testing at this stage unless you’re one of the rare beasts that have a greenfield deployment, in which case you don’t care that Exchange 2010 SP3 is not yet available to allow that version of Exchange to interoperate with its new sibling. Nor will you care that there’s no word on exactly what will be required to run Exchange 2013 alongside Exchange 2007. Microsoft says that all will be revealed in early 2013 so we shall just have to wait for the required bits to find their way to a download server near you around that time.
But on the topic of greenfield deployments, it’s becoming harder to find such a situation. A number of reasons stand out as to why this should be. First, Exchange is the big player in the corporate email market and there cannot be too many large companies at this point who have not at least some experience of Exchange. Migrations from the likes of Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise are less frequent than they were too, so that rules out other sources of potential new deployments. And then there’s the question whether any new company starting up today would ever deploy a new Exchange server. Personally, I think such a company would be mad to get involved in the business of running an email service. It is a much better idea to sign up with Office 365 and have Microsoft provide Exchange Online to you.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how companies take to Exchange 2013 and the reaction that the new Exchange Administration Center (EAC) receives as administrators look for options that they have become accustomed to use in the now-deprecated Exchange Management Center (EMC) console. We live in interesting times!
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