As I talk to organizations about moving to Exchange 2000 Server, and as I have approached projects of this nature, I see one important component that we keep overlooking: Exchange clients. As we plan our Exchange 2000 migrations, we can't forget the client piece of the equation.
We first need to assess our Exchange deployment in terms of our Exchange clients. The severity of migration concerns depends on which client you have deployed now and which client you want to use for Exchange 2000. This isn't just a question of whether to use Outlook 97 or Outlook 2000; it also concerns the client OS of choice and the desktop hardware platform. According to Microsoft, Windows 2000 Professional/Outlook 2000 is the client platform of choice for Exchange 2000. If that's your solution, you're in great shape. However, realistically, we all might not be able to get to that point in time for Exchange 2000. After all, experience tells us that deploying 10,000 new client desktops is much more cumbersome than a few Exchange servers. You need to look at your current client environment and decide whether what you have will work with Exchange 2000. If it will, you must figure out what, if any, configuration changes you'll have to make to support Exchange 2000.
Exchange 2000 might also be your opportunity to get away from Messaging API (MAPI) as a messaging and application protocol for Exchange. Looking at Exchange 2000's Internet protocol support might motivate you to look at moving from MAPI to Internet clients for your deployment. Outlook Web Access (OWA) is a great example of new technology in Exchange 2000 that might motivate you to move to Internet clients. After all, browsers are much easier to deploy, support, and manage than Outlook. You might even consider taking things a step further and look at client desktop support via Windows Terminal Server (WTS). With WTS, Outlook, Office, and the rest of a user's applications are managed, supported, and executed on a server, leaving only a thin-client device at the user workstation. Exchange 2000 might be the excuse you've been waiting for to do a client overhaul, or it might simply be an opportunity to look at the concerns surrounding Exchange 2000 support using your existing clients. Either way, don't forget about this vital piece.
Speaking of clients, one item of feedback we receive here at Exchange Administrator UPDATE is that we never spend enough time looking at clients. One solution is to have more Exchange UPDATEs and focus some of them on the client side. Being a purist, I prefer we not dilute our focus here in Exchange UPDATE by having too many of these hit your inboxes every week. I would rather we do a focused newsletter on each subject. As a result, the folks at Windows 2000 Magazine have decided on a solution that I'm excited about. On December 5, the name of this UPDATE will change to Exchange and Outlook UPDATE, and we will have two editions weekly (I know, still more in your inbox, but at least they'll be focused). Tuesday editions will focus on Outlook; Friday editions will focus on Exchange Server. We'll still have our special edition on the last Wednesday of the month, which will focus on Outlook or Exchange, depending on which one I feel compelled to write about that month. We sincerely hope this decision will add more value to what you already receive in Exchange Administrator UPDATE. As always, we welcome your feedback.