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WHSmith News delivers smooth Exchange switch

WHSmith News has migrated 1,200 email users from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 in one week without incurring any downtime

WHSmith News has migrated 1,200 email users from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 in one week without incurring any downtime.

The move allowed WHSmith News – the UK’s largest magazine and newspaper wholesaler, serving 22,000 retailers and 500 publishers – to consolidate 27 Exchange servers down to five.

Four existing Exchange 5.5 servers were used to run the new system at key business sites, and an IBM Bladecenter rack was acquired to host Exchange 2003 at the company’s Bristol datacentre. The migration was carried out using tools from Quest Software.

Normal industry practice is to adopt a “big bang” approach to migration from Exchange 5.5, switching off the email service to carry out the upgrade. But Dean White, technical solutions manager at WHSmith News, said such an approach was not suitable for his business because users required 24x7 e-mail access.

White said he used Quest Software’s Exchange Migration Wizard rather than the tools provided by Microsoft because it made it easier to move public folders across to the new system.

Exchange Migration Wizard uses agent software running on the email servers to push data from Exchange 5.5 to the Exchange 2003 environment without affecting users.

White said: “90% of the migration work for Exchange 5.5 is preparation. There is a lot of groundwork.”

Part of this preparation involved five days of Quest consulting, and the roll out of Microsoft Active Directory and Outlook 2003.

Following the migration, WHSmith News began using Archive Manager for Exchange, a component of the Quest migration tool suite, as part of its compliance strategy. The software is used to extract and store Exchange PST mailbox files.

Analyst company Gartner estimates that 20% of Exchange users are still running version 5.5, although it is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Microsoft said it works closely with software companies to support the needs of companies with bespoke requirements, such as staged migration, which is not available with the basic Exchange tools.

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