GSX Blog

Delaying Exchange 2013 Migration - How to Overcome Challenges?

Posted by Meryll Moreau on Mon, Feb 24, 2014

In spite of new features and improvements, many companies have decided to hold off on the latest Exchange migration. According to TechTarget's 2014 Windows Server Purchasing Intentions Survey, only 5% of respondents have upgraded to Exchange 2013, while 50% plan to stick with Exchange 2010 in the coming year. So, what's holding organizations back?

Stability Issues

Since its release late last year, the community has been extremely vocal about the issues surrounding Exchange 2013, unless it's 100% normal not to be perfect after a first release. MVP Michael B. Smith's discusses the issue in his article: "Exchange 2013 Gotchas". Two cumulative updates have been released since then, but neither truly delivered. The second update was pulled and rereleased due to a major problem that was found only after the build was released to the public. In response, Microsoft committed to the fixes, but the delayed release of Cumulative Update 3 hints that larger development and testing issues might be the root of the problem.

Not Enough New Capabilities Compared to Exchange 2010

Many respondents refer their migration delay to the lack of value compared to staying with Exchange 2010. Although we have to disagree from a technical point of view, technological improvements alone rarely make good arguments to upgrade. Instead, companies look at different aspects, like increased productivity, end-user adoption and Total Cost of Ownership.

When looking at the cost of implementation and operation, Exchange 2013 could potentially save money, just like Exchange 2010 would over Exchange 2007. However many companies only recently moved to Exchange 2010, so investments made in that platform might not be fully amortized.

Technical limitations

Despite the fact that support is ending soon, many enterprises are still running Exchange 2003 and upgrading to Exchange 2013 isn't an easy task. A double-hop migration will still be required to get there. Because of this requirement, companies might end up staying at the intermediate server version - that way, they don't have to execute two successive migrations and disrupt end-users twice.

Additionally, many clients may run Exchange 2007 or 2010 already but still use Outlook 2003. Often this is because of some legacy applications that interact with Outlook haven't been rewritten for newer versions of Exchange. Many of the new Exchange 2013 features require the use of Outlook 2013, so some companies face a steep learning curve, and training for end-users can become quite costly. Microsoft pushes companies to leverage new Cloud-based office products which can run Office 2013 alongside earlier versions of Exchange, but many companies aren't using Office 365 yet but consider moving to Exchange Online.

According to Forrester, about half of the US and European enterprise IT decision-makers report that their companies use Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).The Hybrid model of implementing IaaS is particularly enticing for US and European based companies; 28% of hardware decision-makers report using a Hybrid Cloud strategy for server resources today, and expect 45% by 2016. Additional information here 

What Will the Future Hold?

Looking back to migration pains and outcomes from Exchange 2010, we see a similar pattern in 2013: the majority of deployments occurred after Service Pack 1.
By the time SP 1 is released (even though no date has been announced yet) many of the quality issues should be fixed, and more people will have experience with the product. This combination makes SP 1 much more attractive to companies.
Hopefully, more companies may have amortized their earlier investments by then, as well. Let's see what's going to be announced at MEC 2014 in Austin. 

Screen Shot 2014 02 21 at 4.48.08 PM

We will off course attend this important event from both a product and social perspectives. Stop by our Booth #807 - it will sure be a lot of fun!

Stay tuned folks!

Tags: Cloud, Exchange 2013, MEC, Exchange 2010 monitoring, APM