Rising cloud-based email archiving, HA and security specialist Mimecast is holding an webcast on moving to Exchange 2010 on March 9.

The one-hour session, "Exchange Server 2010 and Mimecast: Optimising your messaging environment", is timed for audiences across EMEA (it starts at 10am GMT) and features Exchange MVP Nicholas Blank talking about architecting Exchange using a best-of-both-worlds hybrid model between on-premise Exchange and SaaS email management.

Mimecast senior vice president of product management, Jonathan Gale, says: "We’re aiming the webcast specifically at anyone who is wrestling with the issue of where to go next on 2010. Exchange 2010 has got some major steps forward both in terms of things like the role-based permissions and the ability to delegate specific tasks as well as some of the unified messaging pieces. Equally, there are some quite big assertions about reducing the need for either an external archiving service and for continuity services or services which improve the resilience of Exchange. There’s also a little bit on improving its security credibility."

Such assertions raise questions, says Gale: "What does 2010 potentially mean to me? Should I move to it? And do I still need or do I need an external service or an external platform or additional platform, whether that’s onsite or in the cloud, for archiving? Do I need those things to provide continuity?"

Mimecast says that there is an even split between Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007 users within its existing customer base. The 2007 version users have probably only migrated in the last 12-to-18 months.

Gale says: "I think we’re more likely to see a wave of adoption from the '03 customers first who’ve deliberately skipped '07 and will go straight to '10 and but, generally speaking, I think we’ll start to see demand or we’ll start to see migration gradually ramping up, led by the US first over the next 12-to-24 months."

The concern, according Mimecast, is that customers that migrate to Exchange 2010 could rely too heavily on the software's aforementioned enhancements, thereby leaving them exposed on a number of fronts.

"I think there will be a significant number of customers that will just kind of go with the Microsoft marketing and Microsoft position in the market, " says Gale. "One of the things we’re trying to do with the webinar for those people that are actually questioning some of the assumptions is to try and pick those apart."

Gales cites issues such as limitations in Exchange 2010's resiliency, its implications in terms of additional on-site kit, storage and availability for individuals to own their own archives and the potential pitfalls of migration itself. Customers may well take a look at these points and then decide that Exchange's out-of-the-box features are good enough for them, concedes Gale, because their requirements are "relatively low or they’re relatively ill-defined".

He says: "But we feel there is a significant number of people out there who actually will look at it and go: 'Well, the best solution for me really here is to deploy 2010 on-site, take advantage of the new security model, unified messaging pieces and things like the grouping around conversation threads in your inbox. And they'll say: 'So, I’ll deploy that on-site so I’ve got an on-site presence that can talk to other applications that I’ve got within my firewall, where it’s important that I have very tight integration, a close physical proximity for maybe things like the BES \[BlackBerry\] server. But actually all that other stuff, all the security and the continuity and the archiving which is actually quite complex, then I’ll wrap a cloud provider around my on-site environment in a hybrid model and that represents the best solution for me'."

If they do go down the Mimecast path, they will join an ever-swelling throng. The company has grown by 300% per year since it was founded by South African SaaS visionaries Peter Bauer and Neil Murray in the UK in 2003. It now has around 170 employees, and claims 2,500 customers with approximately half a million service users.

The company is convinced that SaaS adoption has reached the tipping point in terms of mass acceptance. Mimecast's own research indicates that of the CIOs of organisations who have adopted a cloud service, 70% of them will adopt additional cloud services in the next 12 months.

"Exchange Server 2010 and Mimecast: Optimising your messaging environment" takes place on Tuesday, March 9. For further details and free registration see the event's web page.