Microsoft Corp. this week will finally release to manufacturing its Exchange 2003 messaging server with new licensing models and no increase in price. But while some enterprises are looking forward to the upgrade, others are growing weary of the companys evolving road map.
About 40 percent of the Exchange customer base has not upgraded from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000, which requires Microsofts Active Directory server. While Exchange 2003 includes tools to assist with migration and deployment issues, moving to Active Directory remains a sticking point with some customers.
“We dont use Active Directory; its hard to implement,” said Bruce Elgort, manager of IS at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, in Camas, Wash. “Theres no point-to-point way to go from 5.5 to 2003. You cant do an in-place upgrade.”
Elgort is instead migrating Sharps messaging server to IBMs Lotus Software divisions Domino 6. The required Active Directory migration is just one of a number of issues Elgort said he had with Exchange. “Theres a lack of vision, a lack of direction, susceptibility to viruses, no coherency in providing a platform for integrating real-time collaboration,” said Elgort.
But Exchange 2003 is generating some excitement among Exchange customers. Juniper Networks Inc. is looking forward to Exchange 2003s improved backup and restore capabilities, tighter integration with other Office 11 products, mobile access, and a better- performing Outlook Web Access, said James Nelson, Junipers IT manager.
“The road map from Exchange 5.5 to 2000 and 2003 does require migration processes that are maybe not very exciting, but the end result is so beneficial that its definitely worth the effort,” said Nelson, in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Active Directory is beneficial, since it allowed Juniper to reduce the directories it managed from two—one for mail, one for security—to one.
In addition, new packaging for Exchange 2003 will save Juniper considerable costs even though per-server pricing remains the same (see chart). Thats because customers will be able to deploy the Standard Edition in front of the corporate firewall, where the server would typically be used to provide access to Outlook Web Access and Outlook Mobile Access. In Exchange 2000, only the Enterprise Edition could be deployed as a front-end server.
Exchange 2003 will offer both per-user and per-device client access licenses. This replaces the previous license model, where a single client license was required as long as the user accessed Exchange no more than 20 percent of the time from a secondary device. The new software will be available to customers with enterprise agreements this summer and generally available later this year, according to Microsoft officials, in Redmond, Wash.