By David Mills, Director of Product Management, BitTitan
It’s been a decade since the 2009 release of Exchange Server 2010, which means the lifecycle for this Microsoft product is soon coming to an end. Originally scheduled for January 14, 2020, Microsoft recently extended the end-of-support date to October 13, 2020. This may be welcomed news for businesses still relying on Exchange 2010, but it should also serve as a wake-up call: The time to upgrade is now.
In announcing the end-of-support deadline extension, Microsoft stated it was doing so “to give Exchange 2010 customers more time to complete their migrations.” These migrations require a considerable amount of time and planning to successfully deploy and complete – and keeping the project on schedule is a task within itself. Businesses should not delay their upgrades, as there are serious ramifications, and Microsoft will not extend the deadline again.
This is where it is critical for managed service providers and IT professionals to step in and advise their clients of the necessary upgrades they need to make. Doing so is win-win for IT pros and their clients, as it builds trust, ensures the health of a customer’s business remains strong and enables the continued business growth for all parties.
The Potential Risks
So, what are the risks businesses face if they don’t upgrade their software? There are quite a few. During a product’s lifecycle, Microsoft provides a substantial number of new features, bug fixes and security updates. Once the end-of-support deadline passes, Exchange 2010 users will not receive technical support from Microsoft for issues that may occur. They will not receive bug fixes for issues that arise that affect the usability of their server. They won’t receive security patches for vulnerabilities that are found. These businesses will face an increased risk of data breaches and malicious cyberattacks. In addition, depending on the compliance regulations of their industry, these businesses may become liable to legal issues for falling out of compliance.
It’s a harrowing outlook, but the good news is there are practical courses of action businesses can take to remedy their situation.
The Most Viable Solutions
Primarily, there are two options that are most ideal for organizations looking to upgrade. For those considering a full transition to cloud technologies, a fitting course of action may be an upgrade to Exchange Online/Office 365. Taking this approach is typically the most reliable and ensures that users will receive regular software updates from Microsoft. End users will have the latest feature enhancements provided in the cloud Office suite. From Microsoft’s perspective, this is likely the preferred route, though subscribers must be vigilant of price increases.
However, not all businesses are ready to abandon on-premises systems just yet. For those that require on-prem hardware, upgrading to Exchange Server 2016 or 2019 may be the way to go. This option offers businesses more control over their email data, as well as a breadth of backup and recovery options for their workplace systems. It must be noted that when pursuing this option, businesses migrating from Exchange 2010 must conduct a “double-hop” migration when moving data to Exchange 2019, and first migrate to Exchange 2013 or 2016. This can seem like a tedious step to add to an already complex process. Employing a third-party migration tool – such as BitTitan’s MigrationWiz – can eliminate this step and afford the ability to migrate directly to Exchange 2019.
Taking a Broader Approach
There is another wrinkle as to why now is an important time to facilitate migrations for customers: Exchange 2010 isn’t the only product that Microsoft will no longer support in 2020. An end-of-life deadline is set for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Nine months later, Microsoft will discontinue support for both SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010 on October 13, 2020. That’s a considerable number of products reaching their lifecycle end in a short amount of time – and it creates an opportune timeframe for MSPs to potentially bundle migration projects for customers.
MSPs and IT pros can delve into larger workplace upgrades and digital enhancements for clients. They can potentially explore overseeing multiple upgrades for these products at once and ensure that a stable and secure workplace plan is established for the long term.
For IT pros and their clients, staying on top of the end-of-support date goes beyond simply upgrading software. By not making the necessary upgrades, the health and well-being of a customer’s business is at stake. Making sure clients are running software and relying on workplace systems that are appropriately upgraded, secure and compliant eliminates these threats and vulnerabilities. It ensures that business for both IT pros and their clients continues to successfully hum along.
David Mills is Director of Product Management at BitTitan, driving product strategy, defining product roadmaps and ensuring customer success. David is an experienced product management leader with more than two decades of industry experience. Prior to BitTitan, he worked as a principal consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a product manager at Microsoft and director of product management at Avanade. His areas of expertise include product planning, cloud infrastructure and applications, and marketing communication.