Exchange 2003 End of Life

The End of a Technology Era

Alongside Windows XP, Exchange 2003 support by Microsoft ended on April 8th 2014.

If you are using Exchange 2003 as your business email application, either as a standalone solution or purchased as part of the Small Business Server 2003, you will be still affected by the Microsoft product lifecycle changes. Microsoft Exchange 2003 went end of life from a support and update perspective on the 8th April 2014 and therefore you need to be planning what effect that will have on your business and planning the migration strategy you are going to follow.

Also, Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 itself approaches end of support next year. Office 2003 is another addition to the list of soon-to-be unsupported Microsoft technologies.

These combined means it is a critical time to review your IT infrastructure and upcoming investments in the right solutions for your business if you are still reliant on these ageing technologies.

A Decade of Change

Since October 2003 when Microsoft introduced these solutions, the world of computing has completely transformed. Shifts in consumer demands in the way we work and the level of security threats from cybercrime means technology has had to evolve to stay relevant to the needs of most organisations. Unfortunately these solutions no longer offer the level of performance, security and reliability many businesses require.

The technology available today is a far cry from that of 2003. Bring your Own Device (BYOD) is a common request from most business users with expectation of being able to access email from any device or location at any time. Newer Microsoft Exchange platforms, such as Exchange 2013, have responded with these changing expectations. Although Exchange 2003 has been a stable platform for business email, it is a product of a simpler era.

The end of support for Exchange 2003 is a fixed date in your technology roadmap which cannot be changed. However, around the corner are options and choice, which is why it is important to speak to an accredited Microsoft partner who can help you understand the range of solutions for your business for 2014 and beyond.

Your Upgrade Options

1. Microsoft Exchange Server 2013

If your organisation prefers the traditional on-premises IT model, then upgrading to Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 is the technology pathway set out. Small Business Server 2003 will become unsupported in July 2015 and this ‘bundle’ approach from Microsoft will also cease to exist entirely. This means clients on Small Business Server 2003 will need to invest in the appropriate Server infrastructure to retain the on-premise approach. This force of hand from Microsoft does mean it is sensible to consider your server infrastructure now to gain the best efficiency from your investments and ongoing performance from your systems before the deadline impacts your business.

Benefits of an on-premise solution

  • Internal oversight and control over all systems and data
  • Allows companies to have dedicated IT staff for maintenance and support
  • Custom disaster recovery plans

Concerns

  • Drawbacks from cost prohibitive hardware and software
  • Limited storage capacity
  • Having to keep up with new features and functionality

2. Office 365

Cloud computing has opened up choice in the market, with solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 as an alternative route for your business, financial considerations and employee productivity.

Office 365 essentially allows you to switch to a subscription-based OPEX method of equipping your staff with the suite of Microsoft Office applications for your business. This approach is in effect the replacement technology for the legacy Small Business Server 2003 ‘bundle’ and presents the simplest pathway to the latest technologies.

It is important to note that Office 365 will still require a fully supported Server infrastructure, so again if you have Small Business Server 2003 in place, this will need to be upgraded before July 2015 to continue operating Office 365.

Benefits of public cloud offering

  • Cost-effective solution for small businesses
  • Simpler upgrade path to latest technologies

Concerns

  • Requires a stable business-grade internet connection
  • Reliant on Microsoft’s core infrastructure and product updates
  • Limited customisation

3. Private Hosted Datacentre

A Private Hosted Datacentre effectively combines the two options above to preserve the control of the traditional IT architecture model, with the flexibility and cost-efficiency offered by Cloud Computing.

IT Service Providers such as Mirus IT offer clients the traditional computing for business applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 without the client needing to invest in new server infrastructure themselves. By renting fully managed server space in secure remote datacentres, clients have the scalability to expand with their business needs and enjoy the piece of mind their data is stored under UK jurisdiction.

Benefits of hosted cloud solutions

  • Best of traditional server/application management and cloud computing flexibility
  • Substantial CAPEX and OPEX cost savings from lower investment points and maintenance overheads
  • Frees up companies’ internal teams so that they can focus more on innovation instead of managing resources
  • Seamlessly scale up or down depending on their usage of services on the cloud
  • Datacentres operated under UK Law

Concerns

  • Finding the right IT Service Provider that can demonstrate security and data integrity
  • Preference to install and customise software on computers that reside inside a company’s own data centre, rather than at a remote location

Our engineers and technical account managers are all trained with world-leading solutions such as Microsoft, HP and VMware, and provide start to finish solution support at all levels of business. A complete list of our technical competencies please visit our accreditations page.

Mirus IT can help your company transition to an IT infrastructure that is fast, reliable, secure and has all enterprise-grade capabilities you need. Contact us today on 0845 519 5055 to discuss your upgrade requirements.