Exchange. Why it’s time to modernise your environment

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By Martin Barringer on

Exchange. Why it’s time to modernise your environment

Like a good old reliable car, most Exchange Servers have been sitting in many a datacentre supporting the business for years… Many organisations adopted Exchange 2010 as the first version of Exchange with full HA and site failover options built-in so no longer requiring 3rd party software to paper over the limitations.

Exchange versions we have seen out there

In recent projects we have encountered a mixture of Exchange 2003, 2007 and very outdated patch levels of Exchange 2010. These are still supporting the business-critical email operations many years after support was ended by Microsoft. Many have been virtualised to get around hardware age, but this introduces another issue in that anything below Exchange 2010 SP3 is not supported on any virtual platform.

Why do companies remain on unsupported versions?

The main reason is “if it is not broken don’t upgrade it”. There is also a risk factor of the unknown. Microsoft are removing technical and support links for these unsupported versions of Exchange.

How do we move this forward?

The first step is to bring in Silversands to perform a review and see what road-map options are available. This review will allow an individual roadmap to be produced charting the steps required. This will allow known issues to be highlighted and mitigation steps to be suggested to reduce the impact to as an upgrade progress. This can be the basis for both IT admins and end user communications in advance of key upgrade steps.

Exchange Servers. Are they still required with Exchange Online?

Short answer is yes… With most customers using Active Directory to anchor authentication through ADFS or PTA with seamless sign on, this presents a technical challenge for update of objects. Some of the key fields are controlled in the local Active Directory and cannot be changed in the cloud even when a mailbox has been migrated. This also affects end-user modification of Distribution Lists which were created using local Active Directory. Microsoft has stated (at Ignite 2019) they are looking at how to address these types of issues with directory sync, but there is currently no date for a resolution. Read Microsoft’s statement about this.

Conclusion

Any unsupported Exchange servers are a major threat to the general security of the environment. Partly this is down to the older operating systems which are no longer in support or unsupported Exchange versions which are no longer being patched for newly discover vulnerabilities. Features are also not developed so for example most legacy Exchange versions don’t support TLS 1.2 so this prevents connections to Exchange Online.

How Can Silversands Help?

Silversands can work with you to produce a roadmap for updating key messaging systems. We can guide you through the changes required, advising on adoption planning and strategy. We can then offer a full end-to-end upgrade project. If you would like to speak to one of our consultants, please complete the form below.

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