Mar
3
2013

Should I upgrade to Exchange 2013

There are nine million Exchange blogs on the web. That’s a fact.

So by now you probably know that Exchange 2013 is the bees knees. I won’t bore you with all the technical bits; but I will try to shed some light on the one question that really matters:

“Should I upgrade, and if so, when?”

Now; Exchange 2010 is a great product. Exchange is really one of those products that hands down get better for each version; and I’d probably have a hard time giving you a single customer who hasn’t been satisfied after upgrading to 2010.

In fact, it is so good, that the question of whether or not to upgrade is actually pretty good.

For one; it’s highly unlikely that there will be an internal demand in your organization to do so. Not for a few years anyway. So the decision to upgrade must give you other benefits than providing a better experience for your users. Because frankly; unless you have avid webmail users, odds are they won’t notice much of a difference.

So let me just quickly flip through the pros and cons for you:

PROS:

  • It requires even less of your storage subsystem than 2010. In fact, if you’re old-school and thinking “I have to use my SAN, Exchange is a heavyweight!”; stop right there! It isn’t! It really, really isn’t. The IO-load has been reduced by 99,5%(!) since 2003. In essence:In 2003 you HAD to have a SAN.
    In 2007, you probably could do without, depending on your load.
    In 2010, you really didn’t have to, but you probably did so anyway.
    In 2013, you are wasting your resources. 7.2K is enough, actually.This is especially true, since:
  • You gotta have a DAG. If you skipped 2010, or even if you’re a “one server to rule them all” guy (they exist, though you won’t hear MS talk about them much); it’s nonsense to not have a DAG at this point. And a DAG means you use at least twice the space. Don’t waste your SAN space if you don’t have to.
    A second Standard Exchange license will set you back $1000 or so, and it’ll make you sleep so much better at night knowing that your databases have failovers.And by the way; if you’re using Storage vMotion in vmware: that’s not supported by Microsoft. DAG lets you reseed and manouver around that problem. And if you think that’s a moot point, since it always works anyway: it doesn’t. Trust me.
  • No more Public Folder database! Yay! Don’t really have to comment on that, do I?
  • New webmail; which is creeping even more toward full Outlook functionality. If you have active webmail-users, that’s awesome; if not, it probably won’t matter much, as the old one is pretty good too.

CONS:

  • No more Public Folder database! You know why that’s a problem? Because if it’s not a database, it’s a mailbox. And if it’s a mailbox, it can only be active in one database. Which meeeeans…? If you have multiple sites; they’ll all be connecting to a single mailbox for their PF access. Across site-links.
    That’s not necessarily a showstopper, that all depends on the usage.
  • Roughly speaking; there aren’t many end-user pro’s. And that’s a con. Because if you need to sell it to the management; they’ll more often than not want to see it from a users perspective.
  • Outlook 2003 is out. Well that’s really a good thing; but for some it could be a big problem.
  • No Edge server. At least for now. So if your organization needs one, you’ll have to use 2010 Edge. That may change in SP1, but as it is now, there’s no Edge.

CONCLUSION:

Well, this is a rough outline, not a technical dissection. But Exchange 2013 in general comes of as a bit of an incremental upgrade from 2010. This is not a revolution, it’s cutting dead weight, it’s simplifying and streamlining an already solid product.

I’d put it like this: If you need to do something with your Exchange platform; I’d go for 2013 straight away. The upgrade just to do the upgrade; that might be a harder sell.

But I’ll take the arguments if anyone has any.

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