Exchange 2003 a viable option, say analysts

New features make upgrading to Exchange 2003, the latest edition of Microsoft’s messaging software, a viable option for some...

New features make upgrading to Exchange 2003, the latest edition of Microsoft’s messaging software, a viable option for some companies, analysts have said.

Ashim Pal, vice-president at Meta Group, said, “Some of these features are very significant, like the addition of wireless support and the improved back up and restore features.”

Upgrading to the new software could make sense for users looking at mobile projects, bandwidth conservation between servers or server consolidation to look at it “selectively”, Pal said

However, Pal believes Exchange 2003 will have a relatively low impact on organisations. Exchange 2000 users planning to do a like-for-like replacement with 2003 would be “throwing their money away”, he said.

Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research, agreed that most Exchange users would shy away from upgrading immediately.

“I think 5.5 really is the sweet spot for Exchange 2003 – they’ve still got an awful lot of customers on 5.5,” he said. “The big challenge for Microsoft will be pointing out the business benefits new features would provide business users.”

For example, Lock said, Exchange 2003 uses memory better than 5.5 and could lead to server consolidation and reduced management overheads.

He also pointed to the improved e-mail filtering; the caching; Outlook Web Access redesign; and inbuilt wireless support, formerly provided by Mobile Information Server 2002.

Exchange 2003 will be available in Standard and Enterprise editions at the same price as Exchange 2000. Licensing options include a per-user client access licence (CAL), which allows a single user unlimited access to the Exchange server from multiple devices, and a per-device CAL.

Nigel Postings, Exchange product manager for Microsoft, said the company is already working with early adopters on Exchange 2003, which will be released to enterprise customers in “late summer” and will hit the shops the same time as Office 2003.

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