Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 was a tremendous leap forward for Microsoft’s industry-leading email and collaboration platform. Exchange 2007 introduced things like failover and disaster recovery features, PowerShell in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS), the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) based Exchange Management Console (EMC), Unified Messaging, 64-bit architecture, Exchange Web Services, compliance features, transport rules, retention management, and many other key features. Many businesses worldwide still use Exchange 2007 for the email and collaboration features that their business relies on.
Exchange 2007 will be ten years old next year and, like many Microsoft products before it, is reaching the end of its support life. Microsoft will be terminating extended support for Exchange 2007 on April 11, 2017. Termination of extended support means that there will be no monthly patches for security problems, bugs, etc. In short, as of April 11, 2017, the Exchange 2007 you’re running will be the Exchange 2007 you’re running forever – unchanging and no longer protected.
The potential exposure to your business by running Exchange 2007 after April 11, 2017, can not be overstated. In order to provide email services, Exchange 2007 must be exposed to the Internet; inbound and outbound email has to be transferred, smartphones have to connect, users have to connect to Outlook Web Access or Outlook Anywhere for remote work, etc. These features require that your Exchange 2007 infrastructure be exposed to the public Internet. As of April 11, 2017, your exposed Exchange 2007 infrastructure will never receive another security update from Microsoft.
If your business still relies on Exchange 2007, it’s time to start considering your options. It takes time to plan and execute a migration, whether that migration is to a newer version of on-premises Exchange Server, Office 365, Hosted Exchange, or any alternative. Whichever direction to plan to take, the time to start working on it is now.
What are some of your options?
Upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 – This is the most direct and least painful choice, but if you opt for this path you should consider it a very short term solution. Exchange 2010 is N-2 (two versions older than N, the current version of Exchange) and already in extended support itself. Upgrading from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 will only buy you a few years before you have to upgrade again. Is that really what you want to do? Probably not.
Upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 – Exchange 2013 is arguably the go-to Exchange version right now. It has been in mainstream use for several years, has had several updates, and is proving its worth and reliability. It is compatible with Exchange 2007 so you can upgrade your Exchange organization from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2013 without any significant complexity (e.g. multi-step migrations, feature compatibility issues, etc.). Exchange 2013 has a long support lifecycle still ahead of it; it has two years of mainstream support plus another five of extended support remaining. However, it is still an N-1 product, and if you’re going to spend your money on a migration, it might be best to go to an N product (Exchange 2016) rather than continue to be behind the curve.
Upgrade to Exchange Server 2016 – Exchange 2016, while a newcomer to on-premises installation, has more mainstream use behind it via Office 365, which is used by millions of users and provides the foundation upon which the on-premises release of Exchange 2016 is based. Any concerns about Exchange 2016 being “too new” for production use don’t take into account that the software has been through many rounds of testing and hard production use in the cloud before being delivered to enterprises for on-premises use.
However, the biggest challenge for Exchange 2016 is that there is no way to upgrade directly from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016. Since Exchange 2016 is N, and Exchange 2007 is N-3, Microsoft doesn’t support any direct migration options. If Exchange 2016 is your goal, you have to go through a “double-hop” migration – upgrade your organization to either Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013, migrate all your users from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010/2013, decommission all your Exchange 2007 servers, and start all over again to upgrade your Exchange 2010/2013 organization to Exchange 2016. Other option is to create a “resource forest,” which has many advantages but also introduces complexity into your IT infrastructure.
Migrate to The Cloud – Office 365 / Hosted Exchange – If your business is still running Exchange 2007, that might be a sign that keeping your Exchange infrastructure current hasn’t been a priority. Whether it’s an issue of cost or manpower, your business is running its communications on ten-year-old software. Moving your email infrastructure to the cloud removes this concern from your radar – permanently. Once you move your email infrastructure to the cloud, you will never have to do another Exchange migration ever again.
Colden Company has always recommended email as a perfect fit for the cloud. Whether you prefer Microsoft Office 365 for best-of-breed features capabilities (with more being added every day) that you couldn’t offer your users at any cost, or you prefer a simple Hosted Exchange (i.e. email only) solution, moving your email infrastructure to the cloud removes the ongoing concern regarding Exchange maintenance and upgrades from your business permanently.
A discussion of the perceived risks associated with cloud computing is beyond the scope of this post, but rest assured that if your concerns revolve around reliability, compliance, security, backup, or any other concerns you might have, Colden Company is ready to put your fears to rest. We have moved many businesses to cloud email and they will never look back.
In summary, if you’re still running your business on Exchange 2007, you have options. What you’re running out of is time. April 11, 2017 is not that far away, and major upgrades can take six months to a year or more to do under normal circumstances; you simply don’t have that much time anymore. Don’t underestimate either the importance of doing this or the timelines required, or think that this will be quick and painless. Upgrading from ten-year-old software is a very major event and needs to be handled carefully.
The good new is that you have Colden Company to help. We have performed many successful Exchange migrations – both on-premises and to the cloud – for businesses of many sizes and in many markets. Start planning your exit from Exchange 2007 today by calling Colden Company at 888-600-4560, email us, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.