During the second half of 2009 Microsoft released two enterprise products that will be shaping your next three years deployment schedules: Microsoft Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Exchange 2010. These two products mark a milestone in server and application performance, reliability and maturity of two major technology shifts – the move away from Server 2003 and Exchange 2003.
Although Microsoft Server 2008 RTM was released in early 2008, and Exchange 2007 released in late 2006, their huge shift in core infrastructure discouraged a large amount IT decision makers away from the new platforms. The 2008 R2 and 2010 versions of these platforms should change this view. The features have been polished, the reliability is higher than ever and their performance has been significantly improved. There is now absolutely no reason for any organisation to be still deploying legacy systems into their environment. It’s finally time to move on.
Although there is no “wow’” feature added to Microsoft Server 2008 R2, there are some significant improvements to the feature set. Improved Virtualisation support - finally adding High-Availability features - almost bridges the gap with VMware (but that’s a conversation for another time). Remote Desktop Services (formally Terminal Services) adds support for Remote-App and Virtual Desktops - a competitor for Citrix’s application presentation and virtual desktop products - add tangible value to the deployment of 2008. Performance and productivity have been improved significantly – now only supporting 64-bit processors – and a large amount of usability improvements found in Windows 7 have been added, allowing admins to have a consistent experience from desktop to server, and niceties that the end user will appreciate, such as multiple monitors in terminal services.
What’s the largest reason for the move to 08? Frankly, it's time. There’s no solid reason for CIO’s to still be deploying Windows Server 2003. It’s seven years old, let it die.
Arguably the Exchange platform is Microsoft’s most important enterprise application offering. It’s been the market leader since Exchange 2000 (Corporate mail platform, not MTA which is owned by Sendmail) and many believe Exchange 2003 to be the best platform release. Exchange 2007 was released in late 2006 and was a huge change in direction. The entire code base was rewritten with a role based design, the administrative tools moved to a command shell and the entire product designed with a vision of unified communications. Enterprise found it hard to justify the move to 2007 - having to upgrade all their hardware to 64-bit and retraining their staff was expensive. Now that almost all new hardware is 64-bit only, and your support staff have had time to learn the new ways, now is the perfect time to deploy Exchange 2010.
Exchange 2010 builds on the work done in 2007, and makes performance and feature improvements. Its unified communication offering has expanded by providing voicemail to text translation, adds built-in archiving and adds end user improvements such as rich client delivery via browsers other than Internet Explorer. Exchange 2010 is also Microsoft’s first real move into a hybrid on-premise/off-premise cloud offering – we’ll need to wait and see how well this is implemented, but I’m sure all CIO’s are watching closely.
With these two new offerings, Microsoft are in a terrific position for 2010 and beyond. For any CIO or IT manager, the time is right to look at upgrade strategy. The technology is mature, your staff know how to use it and your admins know how to support it. 2010 is the year to move away from 2003.
"Matt Shadbolt is a member of the not-for-profit IT Operations and System Administrator profession organisation, SAGE-AU. For more information go to the SAGE-AU Website