Exchange 2007 approaching the end of the line - slowly

It might seem like I'm sounding the alarm far too early, but I do think that those who are still running Exchange 2007 need to have a plan for the future. Although support won't expire until April 2017, it's the nature of IT that other things will get in the way between now and then. Suddenly, the end for extended support for Exchange 2007 will come into sight and nothing will have been done. So, it's time to get your thinking caps on.

Alongside the release of Exchange 2013 CU5 on May 27, Microsoft also issued roll-up update 6 (RU6) for Exchange 2010 SP3. The new update contains no security fixes and should therefore be relatively straightforward to put into production, subject to the normal caveat of test before deployment.

Updates arrived for Exchange 2013 and 2010 but Microsoft did not release an update for Exchange 2007. I guess that this means Exchange 2007 is so fully sorted that no more bugs are being found – or that Microsoft has given up on this version!

Seriously, the lack of an update for Exchange 2007 SP3 reflects the maturity of the code at this point in the product’s lifecycle and the fact that Exchange 2007 SP3 went into extended support on April 10, 2012. Extended support means that Microsoft is only on the hook to fix security bugs.

However, Microsoft takes a pragmatic view of the support situation and might decide to fix other non-security problems too. For instance, Exchange 2007 SP3 RU11 (August 2013) included fixes for the MS13-061 security bulletin and two other issues. On the other hand, Exchange 2007 SP3 RU12 (December 2013) only included fixes for security bulletin MS13-105 while Exchange 2007 SP3 RU13 (February 2014) included one fix and a DST update. It all depends on the support workload at hand and whether any particular issue is causing significant customer pain or is likely too, as in the case of DST updates.

In any case, the likelihood of discovering a really serious bug becomes lower over time. Code is exercised and stressed and if something hasn’t broken by the time the 13th roll-up update for the 3rd service pack comes around, it’s probably going to see the product through to the end of its lifecycle.  Functionality requests are not taken by Microsoft once a product goes into extended support but it’s possible that a request might have been met and is available in Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013.

The net result is that Microsoft has less work to do to maintain Exchange 2007 these days, which is probably blessed relief given the hard-charging pace of development we see in Exchange Online plus the need to issue quarterly cumulative updates for Exchange 2013 and keep Exchange 2010 going too.

But that’s no reason for complacency if you are running Exchange 2007. This is now old software (a CCR cluster seems so antiquated when compared to a DAG) and will reach the end of the road on April 11, 2017. OK, that’s still over 32 months away at this point, but given the intergalactic speed of decision making and planning that happens in some IT shops, it might just take that long for an upgrade project to happen.

The migration decision is pretty simple: move to Exchange 2013 or move to Office 365. If you’re interested in using a hybrid on-premises/cloud deployment, I’d move to Exchange 2013 first and then put the hybrid components in place first. Either way, you might be sad to move off Exchange 2007, but your messaging infrastructure will be so much more modern. Which seems to be a good thing.

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Aug 5, 2014

If you are on Exchange Server 2007 it is Time to move to Exchange Server 2013 SP1 now.......come on CCR & SCR :-) it is so back in the days......

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On-premises and cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Server and all the associated technology that runs alongside Microsoft's enterprise messaging server.

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Tony Redmond

Tony Redmond is a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and the author of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press) and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox...
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