Still using Exchange 2010? Upgrade to Exchange 2016, Hosted Exchange, or Office 365

Exchange 2010 has been “the” Exchange platform to be on for many years. It has served companies well, but Microsoft recently announced that it would be retiring Exchange 2010. End-of-support was originally scheduled for this month, but because of the number of companies and countries still running Exchange 2010, they extended the deadline to October. The big question now for small companies that use Exchange 2010 for 5-100 mailboxes is: Do they move to the cloud (Office 365) or move to a new version of Exchange on-premises? For those that don’t want to move or can’t move to the cloud, the logical path would be Exchange 2016. And for the many companies and countries still scared of the cloud, they might even look at a Hosted Exchange platform. Each comes with its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at your options for when you want to upgrade Exchange 2010.

On-premises migrations

exchange domain controllers

Newer might seem better, but you will need to outlay new capital for hardware because small business servers running Exchange, DC, or Pastel are not going to run Exchange 2016. Even though Exchange 2016 has 30 percent less IO, you still need to give it more than what you give your Exchange 2010 server. If you are using an on-premises AudioCodes device or PABX that has connectivity to Exchange 2010 or Lync Server or you have older outlook clients, you need to consider that all this would need to be upgraded to support the Exchange 2016.

This leads to more licensing costs, hardware costs, and vendor costs than you would need to upgrade legacy systems. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Your biggest problem with this is change. End-users don’t like change, no matter how small it is. Imagine you upgrade Office on a user’s machine, they become frustrated with all the changes, now you move their mailboxes, and it causes more disruption.

Some companies will need to outsource as they might not have the skill in-house to do the upgrades and so there are more costs. Last but not least, firewalls: You might be running a TMG system that is very old and works but Microsoft will advise you to upgrade as there is no support for that.

I’m not trying to scare you, but you can see the vast amount of change that has to happen. Fortunately, it will happen for the better. Unfortunately, clients that want to move to Exchange 2019 will need to do a double-hop of migrations as you cannot install Exchange 2019 in an Exchange 2010 environment. Yes, you do have third-party tools that can do cross-forest migrations, but at the end of the day, the migration won’t be as smooth as you would like.

Hosted Exchange

Hosted Exchange is a flexible option because you can move everything to the hosting platform and not worry about hardware and licensing server operating systems in-house. Most hosting companies offer 100GB mailboxes with archiving. This can be on-premises for the hosting company or outsourced by them to another vendor like Symantec. These costs will be included in your subscription if you take it.

Hosting companies also make use of third-party platforms so upgrades don’t happen immediately as they would if you did this yourself. You can move all your applications to the hosted company as well and basically get rid of the servers in your environment. You will be looking at migration costs for data. This can also be a bit pricey as you might have a user that has a 100GB mailbox already but also 5-10 PST files that are 10-20GB in size that would need to be imported.

Hosted Exchange companies also offer backups, so you might want to ditch the old tape solution that is so old, you are not sure if you can actually recover the data.

Office 365

 office 365
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If the cloud is your destination, Office 365 is waiting for you. Microsoft has datacenters worldwide and in first-world countries, bandwidth is not an issue. But smaller companies using a 10MB ADSL line, for example, are going to see some problems. This leads to costs to upgrade to fiber connections, which may not be easy to do in many countries. If you can upgrade your connections, the upside is that you can move all your mail to Office 365 and you get to use the latest and greatest Office packages. It all depends on what license you take.

If you don’t have a Microsoft datacenter close to you, you need to check the connectivity speed from your office. Sign up with a trial account and test out the latency with a few users. If you use SharePoint onsite or have Skype for Business onsite, you could migrate this all to the cloud and not have worry about incurring multiple datacenter costs. This includes power usage and licensing.

Each option will work for different companies, but some companies might just stick with Exchange 2010 because they have the attitude of “it worked all these years.” Of course, this brings up the unhappy prospect of the day when it finally crashes and there is no recovery option.

Upgrade Exchange 2010: The clock is ticking

Yes, you do need to upgrade Exchange 2010 sooner or later. You have until October to make the move, so start to think about an option before it is too late. If you are not sure, ask for help from a consultant or managed service provider so that someone can analyze your environment and propose something for you. Some companies offer a proof of concept (POC), so you can test out the solution for a week or longer before making a decision.

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