It’s less than a month until Exchange 2007 is end of life. Here are your options.


It’s hard to believe that it’s ten years since Exchange Server 2007 arrived, bringing with it first version of the technology Exchange and Office 365 users take for granted every single day. In my view, it was the first version of Exchange that really brought something revolutionary compared to equivalents of the time.

Sure, Exchange 2003 and earlier supported clustering, but so almost any other service with a few tweaks could support that model of shared storage-based SAN clustering. Exchange 2007 brought the CCR cluster – the same technology that has evolved into Database Availability Groups today, and along with it, Exchange 2007 brought a promise of much lower IOPs.

Back in the day, Exchange 2007 made it possible for me, as a system administrator at the time, to make use of slower disks than I’d ever thought possible. At the time, with Exchange 2003 and UNIX-based email systems being the systems I looked after, I was heavily reliant on very expensive, fast SAN storage to meet performance requirements of the organization I worked at. Exchange 2007 allowed me to move away from a shared storage model and move to servers with directly-attached-storage replicating between datacentres within the same site.

It brought with it so many fundamental concepts, like split roles (which are really still in Exchange 2016, it’s just you don’t get a choice) that  that although some consider it the “Windows Vista” of Exchange Server versions – I consider it the first “modern” version of Exchange that laid foundation to the technologies all email users in Office 365 or Exchange 2016 rely on today.

I’m talking about it as if it’s something long in my distant path. And with some reason. As a systems administrator, three years later, I moved the organization I worked at to Exchange Server 2010 and then onward to what is now Office 365. But in my day job, Exchange 2007 has been pretty omnipresent, through various migrations dotted through the Exchange 2010 glory days and onwards to today, where I am still helping various organizations move off the version of Exchange I once thought was so excellent – as did they.

Time moves on, and unless you have been hiding under a rock, you should know that Exchange 2007 has run out of time. It’s end of life. It is no more. It won’t stop working on April 11th, 2017, but it should be your priority to move off it immediately.

If you don’t currently have a support contract with Microsoft it’s far too easy to say “this doesn’t affect me”. But, unless you are particularly unusual, you’ll be keeping Exchange Server patched with bug fixes and importantly, security updates. The only reason I hear why people don’t patch Exchange is because their implementation is unreliable – which in itself is another reason to move.

Seriously though, the very fact you won’t get security patches should send a chill down your spine, especially if you follow the news. Things are not going to set to get better and as time rolls along, it’s going to become very difficult for you to migrate.

What you can’t have if you stay on Exchange 2007

First of all, sticking with Exchange 2007 makes everything else more difficult. Whilst the majority of organizations I work with have some sort of Windows 10 rollout planned, if you don’t move from Exchange 2007 you are stuck with Office 2013 at most. Office 2016 isn’t exactly brand new any more, and it does not connect to Exchange 2007. No shiny new computers for you.

Secondly you have no native, direct route to anything completely up to date. Because you are still on an old version, it’s more difficult to move to a new version, but it’s not impossible, nor especially nasty. If you leave it, you will end up with a migration path that will become more painful as time progresses.

Options for moving to something modern

So if you are going to move there are obvious paths you should consider taking. Simply put, if you want a relatively easy life, you’ve got two main options:

  • Move to Exchange Server 2013
  • Move to Exchange Online

Notice I say Exchange Server 2013, rather than 2016? That’s because a move to Exchange 2016, whilst preferable, is a pain in the butt to do in one go. This is because there’s no direct migration path to Exchange 2016 from such an old version of Exchange. Crazy, huh? Well no, it’s not. Exchange Server has for as long as I can remember only had co-existence with the previous two versions.

Exchange Online does provide you a more direct path – but you will need to consider implementing an Exchange 2013 server a to enable Hybrid Co-existence. This allows for a native migration to Exchange Online, using Exchange Hybrid as the “bridge” to the cloud. Alternatively, you could choose Staged (which sucks), Cutover (which also sucks) or an IMAP migration (er, just.. don’t). With options like Express Migration and Minimal Hybrid, even smaller organizations would be wise to consider popping in an Exchange 2013 server to manage the migration. You are going to need it to manage mailboxes anyway, if you are going to keep Azure AD Connect in place. For an even simpler life tools like MigrationWiz can make the migration easier too. BitTitan decided recently to move to a “bundle” model, which means you get the bits included to re-configure clients, migrate public folders as well as mailboxes within one licence. Which is nice.

Exchange 2013, again gives you a direct path. You can build Exchange 2013 in your existing Active Directory forest, set up co-existence of client access namespaces, set up your fancy Database Availability Groups and whooosh over your mailboxes. Job done! It’s not super simple, but not super difficult either. Once you are moved across to Exchange 2013 – that’s the point to break the habit of being stuck on older Exchange versions and plan a (much much simpler) migration to Exchange Server 2016. But in the meantime, you get nearly all the same benefits and you can have up to date clients.

Finally, to address the elephant in the room. Exchange Server 2010. It’s very hard to recommend migrating to Exchange 2010 for one simple reason – it’s in extended support. The clock is ticking on it too, so a migration to a version of Exchange which is nearly as tough to maintain as 2007 isn’t a great idea as you’re only delaying the inevitable. The only slightly valid reasons to consider it that I’ve encountered have been firstly – third party application support, and secondly – needing to keep legacy public folders for a little while longer.

Resources to help you move

Thankfully because you’ve waited so long, there’s a fair bit of information out there to help you. I’ve even written some of it.

So, the good news for me – and you – is that I don’t need to write you a seventeen part series on migrating, I don’t need to create a course to help you understand how to migrate to Exchange Online, I don’t need to guide you through the Hybrid Wizard or write a detailed guide on your options for migrating. Because I’ve already done all that.

Planning and migrating a small organization from Exchange 2007 to 2013

“In this multi-part article series, we’re looking at how to migrate from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2013 in the context of a smaller organization. This series will aim to help you understand the deployment challenges associated with migrating to Exchange 2013 on a wider scale.”

Onboarding Messaging to Office 365

“In this course, we will take you through the deployment process of migrating your email system to Office 365 using the FastTrack center – a benefit for organizations larger than 150 seats. We will explain the envisioning and onboarding journey as part of the FastTrack process. This course will outline all of the responsibilities the customer must perform as well as explain the FastTrack center’s responsibilities in the onboarding process”

Using the Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard

“In this multi part series, we’ll explore how to prepare for and use the Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard with Exchange Server 2010, 2013 and 2016. The wizard replaces the built-in Hybrid Configuration Wizards in Exchange 2010 and 2013 and is now the de-facto method for implementing Exchange Hybrid. After implementing Hybrid we’ll walk you through post-configuration steps and provide guidance on testing core functionality.”

It’s time to migrate from Exchange Server 2007 and 2010

Finally, and quite ironically, the guide I wrote in 2015…

“Now is the right time to consider migrating to a new version of Exchange. If you are running Exchange 2007 or 2010 it is now in extended support, and you need to consider your options.”