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Exchange 2003 Early Adopters Trot Out with ROI Stories

With the launch of Exchange Server 2003 this week, Microsoft is beginning to trot out early adopter customers to show that the new e-mail server allows for huge reductions in messaging server numbers -- and a reduction in costs that makes the server upgrade pay for itself.

In a still-difficult spending environment, return on investment remains the main gating factor for new deployments, according to Rick Delaney, who oversees Microsoft infrastructure engagements for HP Services Consulting and Integration. "CIOs tell us, 'If you can't see an ROI in 12 months or less, the project's are going to be difficult," Delaney says.

According to Delaney and Melissa Stern, Exchange product manager for Microsoft, customers are seeing quick ROIs from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003 migrations. "This is the earliest point in the product cycle that we've had this many customers and this many users deployed," Stern says. Microsoft claims 200 customers have deployed 330,000 user seats on Exchange so far.

While Exchange 2003 launched on Oct. 21, the gold code has actually been available since a late June release to manufacturing. The formal launch was held back to coincide with the rest of the Office System on Oct. 21.

In one of the most dramatic examples of Exchange consolidation, early adopter Graphic Packaging International is consolidating 15 mailbox servers down to one. The company expects to save about $300,000, according to Stern.

Another early adopter, Pacific Life Insurance Co. is going from 28 mailbox servers to four. "Eliminating 86 percent of our e-mail servers will kick off a major cost savings," Brad Sherrell, a technology VP at Pacific Life, said in a statement.

Pella Corp. is consolidating 16 Exchange 5.5 servers down to six Exchange 2003 servers. The company reportedly only needs that many because it is shooting for five nines of uptime. Pella Corp. will have two of the servers configured for Outlook Web Access. The other four servers will form a four-node cluster, with two active nodes and two passive nodes. The Volume Shadow Copy services included in Windows Server 2003 and enabled when Exchange Server 2003 is run on Windows Server 2003, will also play into Pella Corp.'s high-availability plans.

Many of the reductions in numbers of servers depend on the local caching and lower bandwidth consumption of the Exchange 2003-Outlook 2003 combination. That one-two punch means organizations can pull servers that formerly had to be local for performance reasons back into the data center, where they can be consolidated and centrally managed.

The massive Siemens Corp. is working out an Exchange Server 2003-based consolidation based on those improvements that will radically reduce the number of Exchange sites it supports. "The enhanced Outlook … will allow us to reduce the number of locations where we and Siemens need to maintain Exchange servers, from currently as much as 150 to less than 20," said Dieter Reinersmann, of Siemens office of the CIO, during the Office System launch on Tuesday.

For more information on Exchange Server 2003, sign up here to receive the free ENT-MCP Magazine Exchange Server 2003 Resource Guide.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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