MICROSOFT IS OFFICIALLY ENDING SUPPORT FOR EXCHANGE 2007 IN APRIL 2017.
After ten years of service, Exchange 2007 will no longer be supported by Microsoft. The end of support lifecycle date is slated for April 11, 2017 which is less than a year away. It is never too early to start planning for an upgrade as migration takes time and adjustment.
Whatever your organisation chooses for an upgrade, if you are still using Exchange 2007 then its time to start planning NOW, in order to avoid a lot of headaches when April 2017 rolls around.
WHY IS MICROSOFT ENDING ITS SUPPORT FOR EXCHANGE 2007?
Microsoft is ending its support just as the company has for other older Microsoft products as new ones are introduced. This allows them to focus on providing support for its newer products which are helping businesses become more productive and propel them into the next generation way of running daily operations.
If you are currently using Exchange 2007 for daily messaging and calendar tasks, you have several options for upgrading. These include subscribing to Microsoft 365 or upgrading to Exchange 2010, 2013, or 2016.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS INVOLVED IN NOT UPGRADING?
Similar to when Microsoft ended the support lifecycle for Exchange 2003, the last security patch for Exchange 2007 will be released on April 11, 2017. This means that your business will be at risk as new viruses, malware, and exploits continue to be released. All it takes is one missing security patch to create a vulnerability a hacker can then exploit to gain access to sensitive information and critical processes.
Other risks include but are not limited to:
LACK OF INDUSTRY COMPLIANCE.
Depending upon what your industry is, using an older version of Exchange will make it difficult to meet current compliance requirements and regulations. As technology changes, so do industry compliance standards. This means it may cost you more money to bring your infrastructure up to speed in an effort to meet new regulations.
INFERIOR SECURITY TESTING.
Your network administration team may scan Exchange 2007 for vulnerabilities however, there is a higher risk of scanning software overlooking an issue. This means a security problem may go unnoticed until it is spotted as an ideal place to launch an attack. Additionally, scanning software is much more generalized when compared to a thorough IT assessment.
COMPROMISED DISASTER RECOVERY.
Even if your organisation has a contingency plan for disaster recovery, an old version of Exchange that is no longer being supported can cause problems with business continuity in the event of a catastrophe.
DIFFICULTY WITH MALWARE PROTECTION.
Regardless of whether you are providing antivirus and malware protection at the operating system level or at both the OS and network levels, if the security patches and updates for Exchange have been discontinued, this is going to make antivirus and malware protection more difficult. Modern malware is malicious and can potentially bring down your entire network and Exchange server in addition to affecting things at the desktop level.
LACK OF PROTECTION FOR EMAIL ATTACHMENTS
Security patches for Exchange 2007 include protection against malware and viruses that can enter the system via an infected email attachment. After April 2017, if you are not receiving the latest security patches for protecting email, this will open up your system and network to exploits when staff click on email attachments to perform daily tasks.
REDUCED SECURITY FOR REMOTE ACCESS AND COLLABORATION.
Today’s way of conducting business is all about mobility and collaboration. When Microsoft discontinues support for Exchange 2007 your staff will not have a secure level of access to the tools they need to complete daily tasks. Because security is compromised, access for remote workers can become an unnecessary risk.
These are just a few of the risks your business may face when Microsoft ends the support lifecycle on April 11, 2017. According to your specific type of business and industry, there may be additional risks worth exploring that we have not mentioned in this section.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF UPGRADING TO OFFICE 365 OR A LATER VERSION OF EXCHANGE?
Email systems have evolved significantly since Microsoft released Exchange 2007. As a result, there are many benefits associated with upgrading from your old version of Exchange. Since 2007 there have been many improvements such as new features, unified collaboration tools, better reliability and more. Some of the improvements include:
LOWER COST OF OWNERSHIP.
The newer versions of Exchange require less server infrastructure. This means reduced hardware costs, licensing fees, and backup. It also means energy cost savings since newer Exchange servers consume less power and offer reduced cooling.
In terms of other costs savings, newer versions of Exchange offer reduced IOPS (Input Operations per Second) on databases which increases storage performance. This results in reduced costs when it comes to JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) because less IOPS is required.
Beginning in 2010, Microsoft also redesigned Exchange to support SATA which lowered the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for many companies. This was accomplished by redesigning the disk write technology to get around the bursting disk write problems which prevented the use of SATA disks.
If you opt to migrate to a cloud solution such as Office 365, then you’ll never have to be concerned about such issues! Microsoft maintains, monitors and supports the platform, whilst providing access to the Office 365 server that’s capable of hosting the same mailboxes that are used on your current on-premise Exchange server.
Office 365 represents a significant reduction in TCO. For a monthly subscription, you get access to the latest applications and updates in addition to security, encryption, storage and redundancy, advanced collaborative tools mobile solutions, and more. Depending upon the plan and configuration you choose, you may not have any more costs associated with IT infrastructure. And, you may not have any responsibilities with regard to monitoring and maintenance.
ACCESS TO AN IMPROVED VERSION OF MICROSOFT OUTLOOK.
Beginning with Exchange 2010, Microsoft improved Outlook to include web access (OWA). This allows remote workers to access Outlook whenever they are out of the office. Additionally, Outlook has been re-engineered with cross browser support to provide a better experience with web browsers, regardless if you are using Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. The redesign also supports both Windows and Mac devices as well.
If you choose to migrate to Office 365 and you are still using Outlook 2007, you can easily upgrade to Office 365 without having to purchase a newer version of Microsoft Outlook. Additionally, a few of the Office 365 subscriptions provide you with the opportunity to upgrade to Outlook 2010 using on-premises licensing or you can opt to use the Outlook Web App which is included with all Office 365 subscriptions.
IMPROVED IT ARCHITECTURE.
Beginning with Exchange 2013, Microsoft simplified Exchange to manage only two simple roles which include Client Access and Mail server roles.
The Client Access manages proxy services in addition to all authentication and redirection. The Mailbox server manages unified messaging in addition to other services that typically run on the Exchange server.
With Office 365, you have access to newer versions of Exchange in the form of a hosted solution offering. This means you never have to worry about server infrastructure since Microsoft oversees these responsibilities and you have access to a newer version of Exchange.
Microsoft has rewritten Exchange in C# programming language. This provides higher availability, especially when it comes to disaster recovery. Since the public folders access the mailbox databases, they can now join the database availability group. Additionally, each database is connected to separate dedicated worker processes. In the event of an issue with one process, the rest of the databases will keep running unobstructed by the problem with one database.
Microsoft also implemented Safety Net which stores message copies on a mailbox server in an active database. The new functionality replaces the old transport dumpster and creates an automatic failover in the event of a disaster.
If you opt to migrate to Office 365, you have high availability access with redundancy for storage. Plus Microsoft guarantees 99.9 percent availability and backs it with a Service Level Agreement.
EASIER AND STRAIGHTFORWARD DEPLOYMENT AND MAINTENANCE.
Later versions of Exchange offer easier deployment and hassle-free maintenance thanks to the implementation of a single web-based User Interface (UI) known as the Exchange Administration Center. This technology replaces the old Exchange Management Console and the Exchange Control Panel. Plus, deployment is not necessary and maintenance is easy.
Public folders in Exchange are now managed through the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) instead of through the management console. Additionally, administration for PowerShell has been equipped with 187 additional commands.
Maintenance has also gotten easier because the Database Availability Group (DAG) no longer requires a network name or Cluster Name Object (CNO). The DAG also no longer requires an IP address. Instead, the cluster data is managed in the Active Directory configuration container.
If you use Office 365, deployment and maintenance is included in your monthly subscription. You can also consider a hybrid solution using Active Directory for Office 365 which provides synchronization between on the premises applications and the cloud.
The newer versions of Exchange offer better integration when it comes to interacting with the Microsoft environment. Outlook Web Access (OWA) and SharePoint work seamlessly with Site Mailboxes. This means your staff will be able to access offline content using the Outlook Web Access client and mobile app.
Newer integrations also provide more unified search functions that allow you to perform searches across all Microsoft Office applications. If you use Lync, integration of Outlook Web Access and other Office web apps do not require you to install a local copy of Office. Instead, documents can be viewed and edited using a web browser.
If you subscribe to Office 365, integration is seamless regardless if you are migrating everything to the cloud or you opt to use a hybrid solution. Microsoft provides the necessary support to assist with integration as part of your subscription plan.
IT’S EASIER TO MIGRATE TO NEWER VERSIONS OF EXCHANGE.
If you are currently running Exchange 2007, you can easily migrate to Exchange 2010 to 2013. This is accomplished using batch tools that help to automate the migration process. Then you perform recurrent syncs in increments to update changes during the process.
With Office 365, Microsoft can set you up with newer versions of Exchange without having to worry about migration or implementing additional IT. They can also step you through the process of upgrading to a newer version without losing any data you have stored in Exchange 2007.
WHAT ARE THE BEST EXCHANGE 2007 MIGRATION OPTIONS?
Basically, you can upgrade to a newer version of Exchange such as 2013, opt to subscribe to Office 365, or upgrade to Exchange 2016. Here is a look at how each option will work.
UPGRADE TO EXCHANGE 2010 OR 2013.
If you are looking for an easy migration with access to new features, you can consider upgrading to Exchange 2010 or 2013. The newer versions of Exchange are compatible with a straightforward migration process.
If you choose to upgrade to Exchange 2010 then keep in mind the deadline for the end of support lifecycle. You may find yourself going through the process all over again in another few years!
In this case, it may be more worthwhile to upgrade to Exchange 2013. Like other versions of Exchange, 2013 has an end of support lifecycle but at least it will buy you more time than upgrading to 2010. And, you will have access to new features and collaboration tools.
UPGRADE TO EXCHANGE 2016.
If you are considering upgrading to Exchange 2016, it is important to be aware that it is not backwards compatible with Exchange 2007 or Outlook 2007. This means you will face potentially steep IT costs to set up the infrastructure required to upgrade to 2016.
An easier way to migrate to Exchange 2016 is to upgrade to Exchange 2010 and then to 2013 as a double migration. These two versions of Exchange are compatible with Exchange 2016 and will provide for a much easier and less costly migration. If your company has the budget and resources to take this route, you will be set for the long term.
MIGRATE TO OFFICE 365.
If you are still using Exchange 2007, perhaps it is time to think about migrating to the cloud. Maybe you do not have enough IT support on the premises or management is unaware of the importance of upgrading. Whatever the reasons are, if you migrate to the cloud using Microsoft Office 365, you can access state of the art tools and applications without the hassles of maintenance and security. Plus, you only pay for what you use which significantly reduces IT costs.
And, if your company is concerned about losing control of data or security breaches when moving to the cloud, this is no longer the case. Microsoft has had to consistently meet strict compliance requirements in order to operate their data centers. This means they employ an entire staff of IT professionals with a broad range of skills and expertise.
Additionally, Microsoft maintains the IT infrastructure and takes responsibility for security patches and other maintenance tasks. They must maintain strict standards or they lose compliance certifications such as ISO 27018.
Microsoft also provides you with your own space for data and storage that is protected by encryption and other security technologies. This is a huge improvement over trying to keep Exchange 2007 secure on your premises when the support is discontinued.
Additionally, you never have to worry about purchasing new licenses to upgrade your service. Microsoft automatically provides you with the newest upgrades included in your subscription so you always have access to the latest features and functions at a lower price point. You are also provided with a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee and a detailed Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Hopefully this article has provided you with some insight as to why it is important to migrate from Exchange 2007. The time is now to get started with planning as April 11 2017 is not that far off in the future. Upgrades to a new system can take time depending upon the size of your organization so you need to consider which option will work best and start moving forward.
Whenever a migration process takes place, there will be disruptions and an impact on your end users. Migration is never a 100 percent seamless process and it is important that key decision makers within your organization understand the challenges. As long as you move forward with one of the options above, you should land on your feet by April 2017.
LETS TALK ABOUT ABOUT UPGRADING EXCHANGE 2007.
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