Calling all IT professionals

  PC Advisor. 14:28 18 Nov 04
Locked

Hi folks,

We're working on a Microsoft Exchange Server story and need your help. PLEASE INDICATE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE QUOTED BY YOUR REAL NAME.

Microsoft has not laid out a roadmap for upgrading Exchange Server 2003, although it continues to release new management tools for existing versions.

1) Do you care that they have not announced concrete plans for the future of the product?

2) Are you happy with incremental upgrades?

All comments gratefully received.

Guy Dixon, Editor, PC Advisor

  Danoh 02:43 19 Nov 04

I'm no longer a hands-on techie but;

1) No concrete Road Map ~ not concerned if considered as a siloed product.

I reckon MS gauges insufficient growth push from their customer base nor competitive threat for any significant development need. Many sites do not use all available functionality currently.

Also MS traditionally focuses on the client side functionality as part of their desktop territory grab. So they are milking the R&D investments with incremental upgrades and better management tools which have easier business cases for expenditure.

2) Incremental upgrades sufficient? As a siloed product, yes.

However, I wish MS would band their CRM efforts together with their Search engine, Messenger and Email in a more coherent fashion for a mass-market price offering, in a similar way to their previously siloed Office apps.

Doubt my contribution is worth putting a name to, but hope it gets the ball rolling for you.

  Taran 13:01 19 Nov 04

Keeping in mind how many businesses rely on Exchange Server I am pretty concerned on my clients behalf.

The more recent general licensing arrangements implemented by Microsoft have caused small-scale chaos in many corporate settings and, to many, it would seem that a degree in quantum physics is required to work out exactly who pays what, why and when and what they get for it in return.

People like plain English and I, for one, am more than a little tired of having to translate ambiguous software 'rental' scemes into understandable language. This is especially true where a fairly small business is concerned, since most larger coorporates will have had some time to become accustomed to the culture shocks that IT in general can bring.

Most small businesses rely on an outside contactor or, if they are big enough, one or more employed tech-heads to keep things running smoothly. The businesses I work for are all too busy trying to work and earn money to worry about or want to learn about IT in general - they want an out of the box solution that plugs in, does what nature intended and doesn't need its hand held along the way. They also want to be able to clearly understand what they have, what they will have in the future, what the future is likely to bring their way and, most importantly, how much it will cost and whether it will actually make an improvement on their current system(s) and workflow efficiency/security.

An interesting slant to this is that while Microsoft have been tootling along with Exchange Server in general and despite my liking for the product, the competition has not stood still by any stretch of the imagingation. I implemented a SUSE LINUX Openexchange Server solution recently and I was unbelievably impressed: clear and cost effective licensing, MS Exchange-like functionality (and then some), more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at, a quite clearly defined development roadmap in place for its future and superb supprt available.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

And I suspect Microsoft probably are.

So:

1) Yes, I and many of my clients are concerned that a firm and well-defined future does not seem to exist for one of the most important communication backbones in current use.

2) No, I am not terribly impressed with incremental upgrades which smack of being a patch at times rather than an actual upgrade to functionality. Often the upgrades have been little more than something we would have really liked to have seen included from the outset anyway, or that supposedly would have been, if the initial product press releases were to be believed.

I really like Exchange Server as a product. It does what it does well, it is relatively easy to administrate and apart from a few general annoyances it really is superb. There are some very good and, in some cases, arguably better and far more appropriate solutions and for reasons ranging from licensing agreements, the relative uncertainty of its (MS Exchange Server) future (at least at present) and a general move in many areas to at least consider, if not migrate instantly to, alternative products, I think Microsoft could do us all a favour and put us out of our misery by allaying any fears about it.

Not sure if that helps at all, but there we are.

Good luck with this one. I suspect there won't be too many Exchange Server tech-heads hovering around.

Taran

  Danoh 15:08 19 Nov 04

Initial product press releases from MS are their Product Road Maps, marketing and anti-competiive driven.

Has proved to be very successful in holding of purchases of other suppliers offerings that deliver functionality now, by SME clients and corporates alike. But its always a bit of a lottery as to what actually is delivered by MS product releases. By which time their competition has been killed off by cash flow.

Also abhor the change in licencing focus which is in line with the .Net services strategy. To milk even more money out by charging for continued use rather licence fee for new functionality. Turns the well established Exchange Server base from customers into hostages.

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