On the 8th of April 2014, Microsoft ended support for one of their longest running operating systems – Windows XP. In addition, they also ended support for a flurry of other products such as Office 2003 and Exchange server 2003 – which is what we’ll be looking at in this article.
The Exchange email system is used by business of all sizes from almost every corner of the planet. It’s estimated that 85% of business email systems are delivered and managed in-house with a third of those running on the now-outdated Exchange server 2003. So, what does this mean if your business is still running on an Exchange 2003 server?
Microsoft will stop releasing patches and updates for this server. You might see this as “no biggie” but in reality it poses a serious threat to any computer system running the out-dated system – this includes the server itself as well as other machines connected to it. Without updates, the system is subject to hackers who can access corporate data through back-door entrances, brute force attacks, exploits and malicious software such as malware and viruses to execute a variety of illegal operations from data theft to generating botnets. This is far more serious than you may think. According to the Strategic Research Institute, 93% of businesses that are unable to recover data after 10 days close within the following 12 months.
So, what are your options? Well, there are actually quite a few options that you may consider if you are running an in-house Exchange 2003 server which you are willing to upgrade.
Upgrade Your Existing Infrastructure
The first option is to upgrade the infrastructure to support a newer version of Exchange. However, if you are running Exchange server 2003, you cannot upgrade directly to Exchange server 2013, although you can upgrade to Exchange server 2010. If you require the new Exchange 2013 server then you would firstly need to make sure that the hardware of your infrastructure can support Outlook 2013 and Exchange 2013. If it can’t, you may wish to upgrade the infrastructure hardware including servers and clients by installing newer operating systems such as Windows 7/8/8.1 along with business applications such as Microsoft Office 2013 and Outlook 2013, which can be very expensive.
Purchase a New Server
Alternatively, you could simply backup your current email data and buy a brand new Exchange server running Exchange server 2013. Again this is a pricey option and some may consider it quite drastic but it does ensure that you have an up to date in-house server if you require one. The previous email data can then be restored onto the new server and the business can continue. Both these options often result in downtime and can damage the business. However, if strategically executed, downtime could be reduced.
The easiest option is to probably outsource your Exchange to a hosting solutions provider. You can easily migrate your business inbox’s and contacts over to a Hosted Exchange with almost 0% downtime. Hosted Exchange offers better protection against viruses and spam than in-house Exchange servers and can also be accessed remotely on mobile devices such as Smartphones and tablets. All your data is stored in secure ISO-27001 certified datacentres and can be accessed from wherever you are whenever you need it, supported 24/7.
So what should your business do? Should you upgrade your current infrastructure to support the newer Exchange server or outsource your current Exchange accounts to a hosting provider and let them take care of it? Well, it all depends on what you want out of your Exchange. If you are willing to upgrade your current infrastructure and have the resources to do so then the option is there for you. However, if you lack the resources or time to upgrade your Exchange Server from 2003 to a later version then it might be time to buy a brand new server, which you could be lacking funds for, or outsource your already existing Exchange data to a hosting provider. Whichever decision you make is up to you and what your business email requirements are but the decision needs to be carefully thought through and assessed as well as executed quickly and efficiently.
If you wish to find out more about upgrading your current Exchange, contact us and we will be happy to help with any queries you may have.