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Why Exchange 2010 Users Can’t Afford to Delay Their Software Upgrades – and How MSPs Can Help

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.

Bio

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.

Overcome Teams Migration Challenges with Agility and the Right Tools

By David Mills, Director of Product Management, BitTitan

In the unified communications market, Microsoft Teams has proven to be a dominant player, with adoption rates surging. In July, Microsoft reported that Teams has reached 13 million daily active users to outpace rival platforms. By comparison, its primary competitor, Slack, recently reported 12 million daily active users.

Further fueling Teams’ success is the year-over-year increase of activity in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market. In a report on 2019 M&A trends from Deloitte, industry experts from corporate and private-equity organizations overwhelmingly predict a sustained increase in M&A deals over the next 12 months. Considering Microsoft’s strong market presence with Office 365 products and services – particularly among larger organizations – this M&A activity is likely to increase adoption of Teams when smaller companies migrate from other platforms. And this increased activity of merging and separating businesses is driving the need for Teams migration projects.

However, a multitude of hurdles exist, as vendors and businesses are searching for an ideal solution to handle Teams migrations. So, what specifically are the difficulties standing in the way?

Three Challenges

The first challenge facing MSPs and IT professionals is that Microsoft has yet to release full fidelity for its Teams migration API, so IT pros must rely on what’s available via Microsoft’s Graph API and SharePoint API. This is not ideal because these solutions need further refinement to enable seamless and efficient Teams migrations.

The second challenge surrounds the complexity of Teams, as the platform is comprised of many individual components, such as Teams, channels, conversations and user permissions. All these parts need to be migrated in the proper sequence, along with the underlying SharePoint site and folder structure.

Finally, when conducting a Teams migration in a merger scenario, it is not uncommon to encounter Teams or channels that have the same names or username conflicts. These issues can present migration problems that can lead to extended downtime for your users or customer. It is important that MSPs and IT professionals be aware of these challenges before beginning a Teams migration. A little planning will help avoid obstacles and ensure a successful migration.

Solutions on the Market

As MSPs and IT professionals search for the ideal Teams migration tool, there are a few important requirements to consider. First, look for a tool that has the scalability to move an abundance of files and handle large workloads. Given the complex nature of Teams, migration tools must also provide flexibility. Many companies are increasingly wanting to conduct partial migrations and restrict the movement of specific files during a migration, deviating from the normal “lift-and-shift” approach.

Reliable solutions for Teams migrations are becoming available on the market. Earlier this year, BitTitan added Teams migration capabilities to MigrationWiz, its 100-percent SaaS solution for mailbox, document and public-folder migrations. These capabilities enable MSPs and IT professionals to migrate Teams instances and their individual components, including Teams, channels, conversations and permissions. MSPs and IT pros can leverage MigrationWiz to conduct a pre-migration assessment to better gauge the timeline of a Teams migration, the number of required licenses and an overall estimate of the project scope and cost.

BitTitan continues to release Teams migration enhancements that allow MSPs and IT pros more flexibility when conducting Teams migrations. These updates offer MSPs and IT pros some compelling capabilities, including the ability to:

  • Rename Teams in bulk from the Source to the Destination to avoid file-name duplication and username conflict.
  • Exclude guest accounts from the overall assessment count.
  • Move conversation history to the Destination while maintaining similar formatting from the Source.
  • Support Teams instances of U.S. government tenants. This is a crucial sector of the market that requires careful and calculated action when conducting migrations to ensure compliance and security regulations are met.

The new Teams migration features are the result of soliciting partner feedback on how to best meet their needs, with more updates to come soon.

“BitTitan really stepped up for this project,” said Chuck McBride, founder of Forsyte IT Solutions. “We looked at several other solutions, but when we scoped the size of the project and workloads, BitTitan brought us the best option for everything we wanted to do.”

Adopting an Agile Approach to Teams

With the absence of a full-fidelity API from Microsoft, MSPs and IT professionals continue to refine the process for migrating Teams to deliver the most seamless migration possible. As updates and enhancements continue to roll out, MSPs and IT pros must adopt an agile approach to continually meet the evolving needs of users and customers, and ensure they’re leveraging the most current APIs for migrations.

By assessing the landscape up front, leveraging available tools and maintaining an agile approach, MSPs and IT pros will position themselves to successfully meet the growing demand around Teams migrations – and they’ll be well-positioned to address the challenges that arise.

Bio
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.