Alex Smith, Director of Sales Engineering, Intermedia EMEA
Over the past decade, Exchange 2003 has remained a stable platform for business email. However, while subsequent editions of the email server platform have kept pace with mobile devices, bring your own device (BYOD) and user expectations of email, calendar and messaging; Exchange 2003 is a product of a technologically simpler time.
For growing businesses, the 8th of April is fast approaching; a date that will mark the end of Microsoft’s extended support for Exchange 2003. While it’s not unknown for technology to go unsupported and unpatched for a number of years, growing businesses should, at least, be aware of their potential risk exposure and consider their options. According to Forrester Research’s Mark Batrick, “If you plan to continue running these old options, then make sure you protect them behind strong firewalls or even disconnect them from the internet.”
None of these options is practical for an email system; email without an internet connection is pointless and a strict firewall policy would probably filter too much legitimate content.
Here are the more-realistic options:
Option 1: Do nothing and remain on Exchange 2003
Accept the risks of no more security patches. Risks include an increased likelihood external hacks succeeding, data breaches and potential violation of regulatory compliance.
Option 2: Upgrade to on-premise Exchange 2010 or 2013
According to The Radicati Group, 85 per cent of all corporate email boxes are delivered via on-premise servers, and Microsoft dominates that market. According to various sources, as much as one-third of on-premise email systems are Exchange Server 2003. Users can upgrade to Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 but the caveats are: a successful Exchange upgrade typically requires the services of specialised Exchange migration consultants, plus IT administrative time and budget that detract from other IT initiatives.
Option 3: Migrate to cloud-based Exchange 2010 or 2013
This is the increasingly popular choice. According to Radicati, the proportion of cloud-based or hosted email services will expand to one-quarter of the market by 2015. Companies can avoid the labour costs and capital investments of managing and upgrading an on-premise email server by migrating to cloud-based Exchange. The choice of the right hosted Exchange provider is important to the cost/benefit/risk equation. The right cloud provider will guarantee uptime, keep costs low and deliver on the promise of a reliable, secure and integrated cloud environment for Microsoft Exchange.
Even smaller businesses should aim for enterprise-grade performance and security and select a hosted Exchange provider which offers 99.999 per cent availability, 24/7 customer support and migration services to ensure a worry-free experience.
For a deep dive into your Exchange 2003 options and risks, download our white paper: “Decision Guide: Exchange 2003 End of Support”.