When I spoke with Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Exchange Server team, back in February, I asked how he saw the adoption rate of Exchange Server 2010 to that point. "I think it's still a little early to say, but we are very encouraged by what we've seen so far. Very good reception, lot's of excitement. It's still early, but we are very optimistic," he said. He pointed to the financial benefits of Exchange 2010 as well as the many customers still on Exchange 2003 and using older, nearing-end-of-life hardware as key drivers for the move to Exchange 2010. You can read more of what Jha had to say about Exchange 2010 in"Microsoft Helps Smooth Your Exchange 2010 Transition."
In March, we ran a poll on the Exchange & Outlook page asking about Exchange 2010 migration plans, and the results indicated that 72 percent of respondents had already migrated, were in the process, or planned to within one year. More recently, Azaleos released results of a survey conducted by Osterman Research focusing on migration plans for organizations with 1,000 or more users. The survey seems to indicate that these organizations are more ready to adopt Exchange 2010 early than is typical for a Microsoft server product, and it predicts that Exchange 2010 will be the dominant Exchange version in use in 2011, largely picking up share from Exchange 2003.
"There weren't really a lot of surprises in what I saw," said Scott Gode, vice president of marketing for Azaleos, referring to the survey. "It was all sort of stuff that people had been talking about, expecting, given where the economy is, given where the state of the technology is." The state of the technology, of course, is pretty mature, and most people feel that Exchange 2010 has introduced new features that make it well worth considering. In fact, I received an email message recently from a reader describing his organization's upgrade plans to Exchange 2010, and he mentioned specifically that they had considered Exchange 2007 as well and just didn't think it offered enough new features to make the transition worthwhile.
Microsoft has talked a lot about the possibility of running Exchange 2010 in the cloud or in a hybrid set up with some mailboxes in the cloud and some on premises. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to offer Exchange 2010 in its own Exchange Online offering or as part of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), although I expect that will happen soon. Nonetheless, it seems like there's still a lot of hesitation to move messaging to the cloud, regardless of the push Microsoft has given it.
Gode suggested that organizations are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate their messaging strategy with the cloud option a legitimate consideration. But as Gode said, "At least for the larger, mid-market to enterprise customers, we're seeing much more of a push back to stay on Exchange 2010. They're not moving that aggressively to the cloud. If anything, they're moving to the next version, to Exchange 2010. When they see a survey like this, and they see a lot of the issues they've been worrying about either worked out or on pace to be worked out, it makes them a little bit more confident with that sort of strategy [to maintain on-premises Exchange servers]." You can download the Osterman survey from Azaleos's website.
Last month, the Exchange team began talking about Exchange 2010 SP1 and the improvements it will bring. Businesses frequently wait for the first service pack before seriously considering moving to a new version, so this could spur even more migrations. And Office 2010 is now available, as of yesterday's news from Microsoft, to volume license customers—and with it, Outlook 2010, of course. Outlook 2010 is necessary to take advantage of many of Exchange 2010's new features on the desktop, which means companies might well have been waiting for this release as well before upgrading.
So basically, it looks like Exchange 2010 is marching right along and is likely to continue to do so for some time. How is your organization doing with transition plans? Already there, in the works, or not even considering it yet? I'd love to hear from you about the challenges faced—and overcome—as you move your messaging infrastructure to its next phase. Leave a comment or send me an email.