Exchange 2010: Competing in the Cloud, and Moving Up from 2003

Since Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 was released last fall, I've had the pleasure of speaking twice with Microsoft's corporate vice president for Exchange, Rajesh Jha. The first occasion was during last November's Microsoft Exchange Connections show in Las Vegas, which took place just as Exchange 2010 was released. You can see part of that video interview below; the full interview is on ITTV.

More recently, I spoke with Jha about how things are going with Exchange 2010 and about what steps Microsoft is taking to help customers make the transition to Exchange 2010. The full interview will appear soon on Windowsitpro.com and will be featured in the May 2010 issue of Windows IT Pro. But for you today, here's a snippet of the interview.

Winstead: Exchange Server is clearly the leading mail and collaboration server in the market today. As you move to a stronger online presence with Exchange Online and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), will you take specific steps to compete with Google and Google's attempts to win customers away from Exchange and Microsoft and into the Google Apps universe?

Jha: I feel that the cloud opens new opportunities for Exchange 2010. If you think about Exchange market share, we are the leader in enterprise messaging. And in the small business space, I think with Exchange Online offering the full functionality of Exchange 2010—the best Outlook experience, and consistent, seamless experience whether you're in Outlook, the browser—any browser—any mobile phone—that's going to win out, and we will have the opportunity for our customers to actually be purely in the cloud hosted by us. It's a growth opportunity for Exchange.

We are very excited about moving to the cloud. There's some speculation that we are somehow defensive about the cloud—far from it! We are very excited about what the cloud offers. Firstly, for our large customers, they get the power of choice—software and service. And for our smaller customers, they might say, "Wow, I can get our entire IT infrastructure but get all the richness of Exchange, hosted by Microsoft and keep it ever-green and fresh." I think we get an opportunity to add share in the small and medium businesses.

Winstead: One of the things we heard initially from our readers was a frustration about the lack of an in-place upgrade option to Exchange 2010. Are you still encountering frustration from existing Exchange users about the lack of in-place upgrades?

Jha: You know, the majority of our installed base is still on Exchange 2003. For many of our Exchange 2003 customers, [they've reached] the end of the lifecycle of their hardware and their software—it's at a logical conclusion. So at this point, they have the opportunity to take advantage of all the new hardware, and the new flexibility built into Exchange 2010. So I understand an upgrade is really an option that many of our customers would like to see, but for the Exchange 2003 customer base, what we've heard is it's really less of an issue because their hardware is already at end-of-life.

The other reason we didn't do an in-place upgrade was we spent a lot of energy in making I/O and performance improvements. We did work on the schema of the Store—very significant work. Over two releases of the product, we've made about 90 percent improvement in the I/O profile use. This allows the customer to run on hardware that goes from just JBOD to DAT storage. So given the big changes in schema, we think we've actually allowed them to reduce their costs in moving from Exchange 2003 to 2010 with many more storage options. And one of the exciting things we've done in Exchange 2010 for our smaller customers—they can actually, with two severs, get full redundancy. They can run all the roles on a given server.

Winstead: What are some things organizations can do to get ready ahead of time to make a transition to Exchange 2010, whether they're currently on Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003?

Jha: First and foremost is to make sure to take advantage of our sizing guidance as built out in the calculator. As you know, email is mission critical. Our customers expect this to be available all the time and have a high reliability. And a lot of that comes from making sure that the architecture that they build out for their messaging infrastructure has got the right sizing built into it. And that's why we spent a lot of energy on the storage calculator—how many mailboxes you'd use based on the amount of traffic you expect, how much memory, how you want to manage the data, disaster recovery, backup. I feel very good about the quality of the tools we have—not just the deployment wizard but the sizing calculator and other guidance that we have. And so that, I think, would be the most important thing to get done.



Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Apr 1, 2010
The reason we are still on Exchange 2003 is we haven't yet needed unified messaging. That made Exchange 2007 an unnecessary upgrade. Exchange 2010 has many compelling features, especially DAGs and the reduced I/O needs, but the fact that Microsoft has made the server quantities increase so much is still a hinderance. We have a single mailbox server and a single OWA server. After running the deployment wizard, it looks like we will need four servers; two mailbox and two CAS/Hub transport, plus a hardware load-balancer in front of the CAS servers, and an SSL VPN front-end as Microsoft says to leave your CAS servers out of the DMZ. This will be an more expensive and costly upgrade, particularly to smaller businesses that just don't have the infrastructure.

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