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Exchange 2010 Upgrade Strategies Outlined in Report

IT shops should assess their environments before upgrading to Microsoft Exchange 2010, according to a Forrester Research report published last week.

One concern should be the e-mail storage techniques currently used for an IT shop's Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007 installations, according to the report, "Exchange 2010 -- An Upgrade Worth Considering." Shops should assess the costs of switching to Exchange 2010's different storage methods.

Microsoft consolidated three technologies previously used in Exchange 2007 for storage and disaster recovery. The new Exchange 2010 technology that replaces those technologies is called "database availability groups." Users of Exchange 2010 won't have the option to continue to use the legacy option of single copy clusters for storage, so that might be a cost consideration, according to the report.

Microsoft took a slightly different approach to the storage architecture with Exchange 2010. For instance, a traditional storage area network can be used alongside direct-attached storage (a low-cost storage option that taps into local PC hard drives). One big benefit to this approach is the promise of greater mailbox storage space for end users. The report suggests that personal mailbox storage sizes could increase from about 250 MB currently to about 2 GB or larger.

Another consideration is the benefits of virtualization, which is somewhat enhanced with Exchange 2010. IT can also tap into Microsoft's Exchange services in the cloud to expand e-mail capacity or to enable access to e-mail by mobile workers. Mobile workers get more options with Exchange 2010 because it provides "full-fidelity browser support for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari," although it requires full Exchange licensing to have that capability, according to the report.

The report cautions that an upgrade to Exchange 2010 may affect support tools used in an IT environment. It may require upgrading that software, such as antivirus, backup and mobility solutions.

Exchange 2010 represents "a step up" with regard to archiving and compliance issues, according to the report. However, those IT shops that want to archive e-mails with e-discovery capabilities likely will require the use of third-party software, especially when other applications and collaboration software need to be integrated into the mix.

Overall, it's "not a slam dunk" decision to upgrade to Exchange 2010, according to Forrester's report. IT shops need to consider Exchange 2010's back-end storage technology, archiving capabilities and overall benefits to end users before making the jump.

Exchange 2010 is currently available, having been released in November.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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