Exchange and Outlook Blog

Predictions and Survey Results Point to Exchange 2010 Growth

Microsoft launched another assault on Lotus Notes last week. On Microsoft's Unified Communications Group Team Blog, Julia White, Senior Director, Exchange Product Management, spent the week writing about companies making the switch from Notes to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. In White's first blog in the series, with the inflammatory title"Don't Be the Last Company on Notes," she makes it clear that the timing of this campaign was tied to the IBM Lotusphere conference, going on this week in Orlando, while "customers are evaluating what they can improve with their mail, messaging, and collaboration infrastructure."

Oh, and isn't it fun to see the ire this raises in the Notes community? Just check out the comments on the aforementioned blog to see what I mean. Whether you read White's message as pure spin or honest belief in the Exchange Server product, it's hard to argue with the fact that Exchange is the dominant messaging platform. And she's not the only one forecasting continued large uptake in Exchange 2010 in the coming year. Both Tony Redmond and Paul Robichaux have recently made that a part of their predictions for 2011. In fact, Redmond dubbed this the "year of migration," although his point was about organizations upgrading from the nearing-end-of-support Exchange 2003.

At the fall Microsoft Exchange Connections show last November, email management vendor Mimecast surveyed Exchange and IT admins in attendance about their plans for the coming year, and the results also indicate heavy movement of organizations onto Exchange 2010. I spoke about the survey results with Mary Kay Roberto, who is Mimecast's senior vice president and general manager for North America. Roberto described Exchange Connections as "kind of like a user group meeting around Microsoft Exchange" because of the large number of Exchange-focused IT people in attendance. Mimecast decided to poll this audience to see where they were in their planning relative to Exchange 2010.

"There's still a fair amount of Exchange 2003 usage," Roberto said. "And I think the people who are on 2003 see a lot of benefits in moving to 2010." Because of the major architectural change and addition of database availability groups (DAGs) in Exchange 2010, it's probably no surprise that the largest benefit seen by people planning to migrate as well as those who had already migrated is the increased availability that DAGs provide. Also ranking high in the survey was easier administration, which is probably the result of more tasks being available in the GUI, rather than requiring PowerShell commands, and the addition of the web-based Exchange Control Panel (ECP).

The Mimecast survey also reported on what admins considered the greatest email challenges and what factors affected their decisions about upgrading to Exchange 2010. In addition to the survey, Mimecast representatives such as Roberto were on hand at the conference to discuss in more detail what organizations had planned. According to Roberto, one of the biggest surprises is that "spam and security is still such a dominant issue for organizations" when considering an upgrade because companies generally already have strong protection in place. You can download the survey results from Mimecast's website.

Mimecast offers Unified Email Management, which is a cloud-based continuity, security, and archiving service for on-premises Exchange deployments. This is a service you might want to consider if you're planning a migration. As Roberto said, "Any time you have to do a migration, the more data you've offloaded to an archive and you don't have to migrate is a good thing. But then the continuity factor around Mimecast gives you more flexibility when doing the move. So if there's an issue with availability during the migration at all, your users continue to receive and send email through the Mimecast system until the event has been resolved."

Whether you think it's all marketing hype or a significant movement in the real world, it seems a lot of businesses and IT admins will be looking at Exchange 2010 this year with an eye toward implementing it in their environments. If you're in that camp, I'd love to hear what reasons have led you to upgrade—or to stick with what you have. Are you looking at Microsoft's Office 365 or possibly another cloud service for your messaging needs? If you're engaged in an Exchange 2010 migration, let me know what your pain points are, or what challenges you had to overcome that you wished you'd heard about ahead of time. I'd love to share any feedback with others who might be in similar situations.

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