Research Suggests Exchange 2007 Migration to Reach $50B

Dennis Faas's picture

The recent release of Microsoft Vista and Exchange 2007 has IT managers and system administrators taking a long hard look at upgrading their organization's infrastructures reports. (Source:

While there may be some advantages to the new products such as enhanced security features, optimized mobility functions and integrated searching, there are just as many if not more challenges, including hardware upgrades and compatibility issues.

Keith McCall, founder and CTO of Azaleos, a company that builds appliances with Microsoft software preloaded and preconfigured then provides professional services for management and monitoring, is the former Director and Product Unit Manager of the Exchange group at Microsoft.

The Product Unit helps large enterprises during upgrades and migrations. What became evident to McCall is that IT (information technology) isn't getting easier. In fact, the complexities surrounding new email and operating systems means that IT staffs would have to look at their existing skill set to figure out how to retool for Vista and Exchange 2007.

Overall, McCall believes that Vista and Exchange 2007 work well together despite the fact that management tools provided with Exchange 2007 don't work with Vista.

Administrators find this frustrating as they routinely manage servers from their own desktops, which often run the most recent OS on the market.

"The challenge is not just moving to Vista and Exchange 2007 but with all of the applications that surround them," says McCall.

This has been the case with Vista. Exchange 2003 users found they could not use Outlook Web access via Internet Explorer 7 in a Vista environment. Microsoft has already released a remedy for this issue.

Another compatibility issue was the lack of an update for SQL Server to work with Vista when the OS was first released to enterprise customers who routinely rely on SQL-based programs. Since Vista's release, there have been two patches released to rectify all the compatibility issues.

Another compatibility gripe with Vista pertains to third-party security vendors. Security industry heavyweights, such as Symantec have had to issue new releases of their software specific to Vista.

When Microsoft closed access to Vista's kernel, essentially shutting out other security companies' products, there was an outcry demanding that Microsoft give established security vendors access to Vista's kernel.

Users making the move to Exchange 2007 will also need to upgrade to a 64-bit architecture. The 64 bit architecture will optimize applications that require massive amounts of memory not supported by the 32-bit architecture -- such as video encoding, scientific research and massive database queries -- but users are also faced with the issues of Microsoft approved 64-bit drivers.

The enhanced security of 64-bit Vista required signed drivers. Signed drivers are identified by digital certificates and have undergone Microsoft's quality assurance process and have received certification as being stable for installation on the 64-bit operating system.

Unsigned drivers that operate at the kernel level, such as those for [hard drive] RAID controllers, video, storage, and USB devices, will not be able to be installed on the machine, even by the administrator. However, those not running in kernel mode can be installed by users with administrative rights.

A lot of the drivers for Windows XP 64-bit system were not digitally signed (approved by Microsoft). Users could still choose to install them after clicking through a warning dialog window. However, with Vista, this isn't the case. Users would be wise to locate signed drivers for all hardware before installing 64-bit Vista.

Another compatibility issue revolves around virtualization. Despite Microsoft's recent upgrade to its virtualization toolkit, it still doesn't support x64 [the 64 bit architecture], meaning Exchange 2007 won't run in a virtualized Windows Server environment.

Even without the official release of Longhorn (the beta predecessor to Windows Vista), Microsoft's next generation of Server OS, analysts have found compatibility bugs that will require Active Directory (AD) trees with Exchange 2007 servers be kept separate from Longhorn's AD tree unless a fix is issued prior to the commercially available version.

"Customers who are looking to move to Exchange 2007 typically will have to repurchase server hardware," says McCall, who also predicts those who upgrade to Vista will be buying new desktops, as well.

Thom Holwerda, managing editor of OSNews, a clearinghouse news site about operating systems, thinks that 95% of users will get Vista through OEM instead of purchasing the upgrade.

IT departments replacing x32 servers with x64 architecture for Exchange 2007 will be more likely to wait until the release of Microsoft's next-generation server software, Server 2007 or 2008, depending on when it is officially released to complete their upgrade to Exchange 2007.

John Katsaros, co-founder of Internet Research Group based in Los Altos, Calif., estimates that the Exchange 2007 migration costs will reach $50 billion worldwide. This upgrade represents more than just a simple software upgrade; it is a complete retooling of the messaging infrastructure incorporating advances in mobile and telephony as well as traditional messaging.

"I think that people are not going to look at the software upgrades that they might have done in the past with Windows, but they are going to essentially be looking at rip-and-replace," says McCall, who, like Holwerda, predicts those who upgrade to Vista will do so by purchasing new hardware. McCall says, "If you balance it off with the productivity boost and gains of new hardware and solutions, it just might be warranted."

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