Dell encouraging users to step up to Exchange 2003

Dell unveiled a migration program to encourage users to upgrade to the latest release of Microsoft's Exchange groupware Thursday.

Dell last week unveiled a migration program to encourage users to upgrade to the latest release of Microsoft Corp.'s groupware, Exchange Server 2003. The software giant is due to pull extended lifecycle support for an older version of its software, Exchange Server 5.5, at the end of this year.

"Roughly about 25 percent of overall Exchange market is still on 5.5, which translates to thousands of customers," said Leslie Sobon, Dell's director of global alliances. The company estimates that there are approximately 400,000 servers globally that are still running Exchange 5.5, she explained, adding, "There's still a big chunk of the market that has not moved over [to Exchange 2003]."

There are two main reasons why Exchange users have yet to embrace Exchange 2003, Sobon said -- it's not easy to migrate to the new groupware and it costs money. Dell hopes to address both issues with its migration program which consists of six preconfigured server, storage and software bundles, together with migration services and training. The different bundles target a variety of organization sizes, ranging from users with less than 100 mailboxes to those companies with more than 5,000 mailboxes, she said.

With larger companies, some of their issues around migrating from Exchange 5.5 relate to running the older software on a variety of disparate hardware systems, Sobon said. "They just have not wanted to look at this [the migration] in a holistic way," she added.

Consolidating a company's groupware operations on several Dell servers could significantly reduce the cost of running Exchange, she added. Dell estimates that running Exchange Server 2003 on its PowerEdge servers can enable users to handle a maximum of 3,000 extra mailboxes per server than was possible with Exchange 5.5.

Dell claims its preconfigured bundles provide Exchange users with a maximum saving of 25 percent compared to offerings from other companies. Depending on the size of the customer, the bundled hardware is Dell's PowerEdge 2800 or 2850 servers, the software is Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition, and the storage is EMC Corp.'s Fibre Channel AX100 or CX300 which Dell resells. All the bundles, available Thursday, come with software training and three years of support, with pricing for configurations starting from US$5,000.

Sobon doesn't expect all Exchange 5.5 customers will have upgraded to Exchange 2003 by Microsoft's Dec. 31, 2005, deadline, so she said Dell plans to continue its migration program through into 2006. The biggest pockets of Exchange 5.5 users are in the Americas and Europe, she said, with some limited usage in Japan.

Microsoft ended free mainstream support for Exchange Server 5.5 on Dec. 31, 2003, and is providing extended support in terms of security support and pay-per-incident support for the software until the end of this year.

More information about Dell's migration program can be found at http://www.dell.com/exchange.

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