CGS Adds Exchange 2000 Migration

Compaq services group says users can scale the number of users at will.

Compaq Computer Corp.s Global Services group is adding Microsoft Corp. Exchange 2000 migration to its lineup of Computing on Demand services. But whether users are ready to take the migration plunge remains an open question.

CGS new utility computing service, called Applications on Demand for Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, promises customers the ability to scale the number of users at will. The fixed-fee, per-mailbox service gives customers the option of having Exchange 2000 servers installed on-site and managed remotely by Compaq, installed at a Compaq partners hosting facility and remotely managed by Compaq, or hosted and managed at any one of Compaqs 28 Customer Solutions and Support Centers. By Compaqs estimates, there are 15 million Microsoft Exchange seats installed worldwide, but only 1.8 million of those are Exchange 2000 seats. CGS officials said they are getting increasing requests for information about Exchange 2000 services.

One Exchange user who has worked with CGS on other projects plans to migrate to Exchange 2000 this summer but plans to do it on his own. "Id rather have something I can own. But the more complex it is, the more appeal there is for outsourcing it," said Luis Romero, IT director at MarkMaster Inc., in Tampa, Fla. Romero, who described Compaq professional services as "excellent," is confident his organization can do the migration.

Complexity is part of why Exchange 2000 has not been more widely adopted, thanks to the inclusion of Active Directory in the messaging system, said Matt Cain, an analyst at Meta Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "The most challenging part of an Exchange 2000 deployment is getting the Active Directory components right. [Exchange] is being held hostage by Active Directory," Cain said.

"Its not a trivial exercise or a risk-free exercise," said John Willmott, CIO at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in Tallahassee. Willmott, who worked with CGS on an early implementation of Exchange 2000 more than a year ago, said the new service offering is "a great idea."

While Compaq said Exchange 2000 deployments have "slipped," the promise of reduced costs via server consolidation and a target price of about $30 per seat, per month—including license fees and help desk services—could spur deployments, according to Judy Fick, vice president of Compaq Managed Services Worldwide, in Houston.

Its possible that IT is ready now for a move to hosted messaging services, said Dave Castellani, CEO of Mi8 Corp., a New York hosting company that focused on Exchange. "Were getting 40 percent month-over-month growth numbers for Exchange," Castellani said, attributing the increase to cost savings of about 30 percent that hosted messaging can provide. Such moves to outsourcing e-mail are being driven, he said he believes, by chief financial officers trying to drive more cost out of IT. "Compaqs timing is quite good," he said.