Somerfield unplugs Exchange 5.5


Somerfield unplugs Exchange 5.5

Cliff Saran

Supermarket group Somerfield is only now migrating off its legacy NT4/Exchange 5.5 e-mail server onto Exchange 2003, more than two years after Microsoft ceased offering mainstream support for the product.

Somerfield is among the last UK major businesses to be using Exchange 5.5, but Colin Clarke, the group's business control executive, said the supermarket chain was able to mitigate the risks associated with remaining on 5.5 and overcome other limitations of the product through its use of Symantec's Enterprise Vault e-mail archiving system.

The software has allowed Somerfield to extend the useful life of Exchange 5.5 by over-riding the 30Mbte limit on end-users' e-mail baskets size set by Exchange. To protect the e-mail server, Somerfield has also put in place intrusion detection software.

"Before we installed Enterprise Vault in 2002, housekeeping in Exchange 5.5 was a nightmare," said Clarke. "Recovering old e-mail was impossible." With the e-mail archive tool, Clarke said he was able to recover e-mail within seconds. The system manages 12.5 million e-mail messages which consumes 30Gbytes of storage.

If all goes to plan, Somerfield should have migrated onto Exchange 2003 running on Windows 2003 Server over the next three months.

Clarke said having Enterprise Vault in place already would take some of the strain out of the upgrade. "It means that any loss of data on conversion is not as critical as it would otherwise be."

The migration over to Exchange 2003 necessitated upgrading from NT4 Server to Windows 2003 Server, Clark added, as well as implementing Microsoft's Active Directory infrastructure.

The move involves 3,500 users and links to operational systems like the mainframe and banking systems used by Somerfield. According to Clarke, the project is "carefully planned" and has the buy-in of staff in every part of the business.

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