In the two years since the release of Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 2000, less than half of the Exchange user base has upgraded from previous versions of the messaging platform.
To try to spur migration along, developers of administrative tools for Exchange will gather at next weeks Microsoft Exchange Conference, in Anaheim, Calif., to roll out software that will not only assist customers in the complex migration to Exchange 2000 but also manage the system once it is installed.
DYS Analytics Inc., best known for developing messaging management software for IBMs Lotus divisions Notes and Domino, will unveil Email Control for Exchange at the MEC. The product automates administrative tasks such as tracking, measuring, trending, reporting and analysis of Exchange networks, according to officials at DYS, in Wellesley, Mass.
The company is positioning Email Control for Exchange as an aid in accelerating platform upgrades as well as other strategic projects, such as server consolidation and system mergers caused by acquisitions. The tool can be used for more efficient capacity planning and load balancing, user policy creation and enforcement, cost allocation processes, and faster trouble-shooting, company officials said.
Also at the conference, Quest Software Inc. will announce Quest Central for Exchange and Quest Central for Windows. Both can be used to aid companies in planning, deploying and managing Exchange 2000 migrations. Officials at the Irvine, Calif., company said Central for Windows helps companies surmount the hurdle of deploying Windows 2000s Active Directory for shops that are still running Windows NT 4 and Exchange 5.5 by providing real-time diagnostics and expert advice when problems occur.
For its part, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is expected to rally customer support for the next release of Exchange, code-named Titanium and due next year. Despite the slow migration to Exchange 2000, Microsoft officials expect Titanium to spur more migrations from previous versions.
IT managers recognize that Exchange 2000 has its benefits. Active Directory support in the product also makes it easier to keep Exchange administration and maintenance more centralized and standardized for organizations with far-flung global operations, according to Dominique Duchemin, an independent consultant working on a project at a global entertainment company in Burbank, Calif.
: A Different Mind-set”>
But its not as simple as it sounds. Dealing with Active Directory and Exchange requires a different mind-set for administrators used to previous versions of Exchange, according to Al Belfield, senior network system consultant at International Network Services Inc., in Hartford, Conn. Belfield is managing an Exchange 5.5-to-Exchange 2000 migration for a large enterprise client.
“In Exchange 2000, the Exchange server no longer holds its own directory,” said Belfield. “The mailbox is just an attribute of the Active Directory account.”
Belfield said that moving accounts from multiple account domains in large organizations with multiple resource forests to Exchange 2000, which supports just a single account domain in Active Directory, has been particularly challenging. However, he said Microsofts Active Directory Connector has met most of his migration needs.
“You have to replicate directory information from 5.5 to Active Directory and establish a transport mechanism to pass mail back and forth while youre doing it,” Belfield said. “One of the big concerns is coexistence between the two systems as youre doing the migration. And you have to have enough time to move from the public folders in 5.5 to the new system.”
Neither Duchemin nor Belfield thinks customers should feel any imperative to migrate unless they are going to take advantage of specific features in Exchange 2000.
“Im not sure … that it is urgent to move from 5.5, as the movement from 2000 to Titanium, .Net, etc., could be not too easy,” said Duchemin. “We could have the same issues [migrating from] 5.5 to 2000 in 2000 to Titanium. The migration from 5.5 to Titanium might not be any worse.”
Additional reporting by John S. McCright
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