Users don't buy Microsoft's Exchange 2010 savings claims

Microsoft partners say that users are in no hurry to upgrade to Exchange 2010; research says adoption will lag until late 2011

Users are not buying into Microsoft's savings claims about Exchange 2010 and most are expected to drag their feet in upgrading to it for a good two years. The new e-mail system has earned accolades from those who have tested it, and yet users are not yet lining up to buy, says Edward Killeen, vice president of of sales for Imanami, a Microsoft Gold partner that offers software to manage ActiveDirectory and Exchange environments. He writes:

"All of our customers depend on an Exchange and Active Directory environment so Imanami is very intent on making sure we understand what our customer base is doing with these technologies. Since our technology also relies on Exchange/AD, it is in our best interest to know what Microsoft is doing and how quickly our clients plan on migrating.

"From our discussions, our customers have no immediate plans to migrate to Exchange 2010.  There are multiple reasons for this but the two that keep ringing most clear are that Microsoft’s savings claims don’t appear to be compelling and that this release is entirely too soon after the migration to Exchange 2007. 

"While there is certainly truth in Microsoft’s savings claims, it appears that an organization would have to have just the right environment to make use of these savings.  If an organization wants to move some of its mailboxes to the cloud, or is in a great position to change out its voicemail system, then it might be a good time to move to Exchange 2010.  Less expensive storage costs may be debatable; what isn’t debatable is that none of the organizations we are talking to have found any of these compelling enough to even plan to make the move.

"The most common refrain is that organizations waited a long time to roll out Exchange 2007 in part because many of the changes broke internal and ISV processes (i.e. removing the Recipient Update Service) and in part because it was a difficult slash and burn install process.   With the long wait to migrate to 2007, the appearance of Exchange 2010 is a lot of work that most organizations haven’t planned for.  As great as it is that Microsoft has hit a three year release schedule, this one appears to be too soon.

"We have yet to have a customer say that they are planning a migration to Exchange 2010 any time soon.

"Even with that said, some of the feature innovation in Exchange 2010 is very good.  The ability to have a hybrid cloud deployment makes sense and is useful for almost any size business.  Even internally, we could use that in our own business.  Some of the advances in OWA are also very compelling (even those that compete with our own product) though it remains to be seen how many users will stray from Outlook to take advantage of these features.

"We appreciate when Microsoft comes out with new releases as it helps drive our own innovation to make sure that our customers can get as much as possible out of Exchange and Active Directory.  There is a reason that an ecosystem of ISVs that help enhance the capabilities of Microsoft’s products exists and we are more than happy to keep adding value to these technologies with each release."

Killeen's sentiments echoes a research report released in September from another Microsoft partner, Metalogix, makers of e-mail archiving products. Metalogix surveyed more than 800 IT administrators and discovered that about half are still running Exchange 2003 and, even so only 20% of respondents planned on upgrading to Exchange 2010 shortly after it became available. Despite the fact that 2010 was, at the time of the survey, imminent, most 2003 users surveyed planned on upgrading to 2007. Metalogix concluded "the adoption rate of Exchange 2010 will not peak for at least two years."

User skepticism hasn't stopped Microsoft from marketing Exchange 2010 as a cost-cutting choice. According to the company's Exchange Server 2010 Cost Savings Calculator, users can save hundreds of thousands of dollars when upgrading from 2003 to 2010, but most of that requires use of Exchange as a unified communication server. The bulk of savings therefore comes from ridding an organization of third-party fees for services like voicemail, mobility and archiving. If those services are offered in house from a PBX, then those savings can't be found.

Microsoft officially released Exchange 2010 on November 9.

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