Monday, March 10, 2014

Exchange 2003 migration toolkit Released!!!

Just before few Minutes Microsoft Exchange Team released the Exchange 2003 migration toolkit in the EHLO Blog, This is a collection of various resources and Tool kits that will help Administrators to plan for a successful migration to the latest version of Exchange Server (Excluding Exchange 2013) or to Office 365 with either Hybrid or a fully Cloud deployment.

As I stated earlier during one of my post The End is Near for "Legacies"... Exchange Server 2003 is reaching its end of support on April 8 2014 along with windows XP and other products and also I mentioned in one of earlier post that I will be writing on this topic soon and today this EHLO blog post made me to write this post for readers. Exchange is a Business Critical application and its importance varies from one Organization to another, On a Technical perspective its always good to upgrade the environment to the latest version if possible or at least to the currently supported version which gives us more advantages of utilizing the new enhancements for having a Highly Available solution, DAG for example with Exchange 2010 etc. and upgrading Exchange not only requires hardware configuration changes it requires some Schema changes to be made in AD which eventually makes Organizations not to go for immediate upgrade to the Next version of Exchange as we have many other applications which are critical and rely on the Legacy Windows Server Operating system and rest of the story is known to all Administrators.

When we are nearing the End of Support for critical product like Exchange Server in our case its Exchange Server 2003 its good to plan and migrate to the next version at the earliest because if we missed we will be in a Unsupported scenario and Microsoft team will not support any of the cases further post this deadline and will be under pressure if anything breaks unexpectedly.  Planning for Migration is not easy with Exchange Server 2003 as it involves downtime for users, as mailbox moves are offline moves and also we have to plan some additional changes to the way free busy is published, Mail flow configuration and most important and painful one the "Public Folders".

Most Organizations are now targeting Cloud and Office 365 is the preferred one and if you are planning for Migrating your Exchange 2003 Environment and also have plans for adopting Cloud based model then this is the best option and we have detailed Instructions available from Microsoft to achieve this with proper guidance and support. but most of the Organizations are now not ready for Cloud deployment in their immediate road-map as they have other factors to consider and the best approach for them is to Upgrade to Exchange Server 2010, which is the preferred upgrade method that can be accomplished successfully with proper design and planning. Already "N" number of customers migrated like this and even I have worked on such migration for a Large Enterprise Organization, though there are few pain points post migration the Environment is stable. Also we cannot upgrade or co-exist with Exchange Server  2013 which is unsupported and going for 2007 is not a wise option.

Additional to the Migration Tool Kit check out this below resources to migrate from Exchange Server 2003 to Office 365 or to Exchange Server 2010. There are many resources available outside and below are few vital ones which are useful to begin your journey and these resources assisted me for my upgrades, specially the ones for Exchange 2010 which I personally recommend to others who approach me to get advice on these transitions.

Step-By-Step: Migration of Exchange 2003 Server to Office 365 from CANITPRO Blog written by our MVP Kelsey Epps

Your Step by Step Guide to Migrating from Exchange Server 2003 to 2010 from ExchangeServerPro written by our MVP Paul Cunningham

Upgrade Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 from Simple Talk written by our MVP Japp Wesselius

Finally, Access the Migration Toolkit here: Exchange 2003 migration toolkit

In addition to the above resources read this latest Redmond Magazine post, which explains the issues that could occur if we don't migrate on time and the requirements we need keep in place to make things work as per Microsoft guidelines and also over other additional benefits we could receive if we opt for their hosted solution.

Microsoft Warns Exchange 2003 Losing Support Next Month 

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