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Should You Upgrade?

Now that you know a little about all the benefits you can realize when using Outlook 2003 as a client for Exchange Server 2003, should you upgrade your existing Exchange 5.5 or Exchange 2000 Server to Exchange Server 2003? Well, there's no easy answer to that question. Any upgrade decision involves three major components: time, money, and risk. How long will it take for you to actually perform the upgrade? If you have only a single Exchange 2000 server and one or two Windows 2000 servers, the time commitment might be rather low. You could probably accomplish the entire upgrade process from backing up your existing data, to installing the new software, to testing clients, in one or two days, possibly on a weekend. I know from experience that one of the upgrades I performed took approximately 6 hours from start to finish. However, that was on a very small network with very little mission-critical data. If you need to upgrade a large network with multiple Exchange Servers, you'll probably need to perform the upgrade in stages over the course of several weeks.

Money is another important factor to consider. Many organizations waited for quite some time before upgrading from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000. Deploying Active Directory is a daunting task, and many organizations simply didn't see the benefit to spending the time and money to replace software and servers that were running quite well. However, over the past three years, more and more organizations have upgraded to Exchange 2000. If your organization just upgraded to Exchange 2000 one year ago, the possibility of spending even more money to upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 probably isn't all that attractive to the decision makers.


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