Is your company using Microsoft Exchange to host your email? You better upgrade...soon.

That's if you're using Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft's on premise email server product. If you haven't noticed, there's this thing called the cloud and Microsoft is trying its best to move its customers to it. Exchange Server 2010 is based on mostly older technology and not very cloud friendly. Its days are numbered.

But don't panic if you've procrastinated: there is some good news. This week Microsoft announced a reprieve for its customers that are lagging behind.

"After investigating and analyzing the deployment state of an extensive number of Exchange customers, we have decided to move the end of Extended Support for Exchange Server 2010 from January 14, 2020, to October 13, 2020," Greg Taylor, director of product marketing for the Exchange team wrote in a blog post this week.

That means that, at least for another year, you'll still get updates for any security flaws in the product and you can still purchase a support plan for other issues. But you won't get anything else. If you don't upgrade after next October when support completely expires, your Exchange Server will continue to operate, but you'll be on your own.

Don't like the cloud so much? According to Computerworld's Gregg Keizer you can still upgrade to an on premise version of the e-mail server software like Exchange 2013 (which exits support April 11 2023) and Exchange 2016 (where support expires in October, 2025).  But these are temporary solutions, and ones that going against the grain.

We all know what the company wants you to do. "Clearly, we think moving to Exchange Online (their flagship cloud product that's available by subscription) and Office 365 is a good idea," Microsoft's Taylor wrote. "We really do believe that's where you'll get access to the most secure and productive software with the lowest TCO. But over and above all of that, it gets you out of the upgrade business. If you migrate fully to Office 365 you really don't need to worry about 'big bang' version upgrades any more. You just have to keep a much smaller number of on-premises servers up to date, and you're good."

He's right, and not only for all the reasons above. It's because that's where all software companies are heading. They get subscription dollars to boost their valuations. But in return they can support their products better. Some of my clients still have legitimate concerns around security and pricing. But the momentum is too strong to overcome. And this is not just a Microsoft thing. Most of their significant competitors, like G Suite, Kerio, Zimbra and Zoho - are all about the cloud too.

My advice if you're still on Exchange 2010 or before: upgrade as soon as possible to the most recent, cloud version of Exchange and move on.  You've got other things to worry about and email is just too important for your company.

Note:  My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner. I have received no compensation to write this.

Published on: Sep 19, 2019