Linked by Alex Chejlyk on Mon 18th Jul 2005 17:09 UTC
Internet & Networking Microsoft dropped support for Exchange 5.5 on December 31st, 2004. Exchange 5.5 users can upgrade to Exchange Server 2003, continue to run 5.5 with all accompanied security risks, or switch over to another mail/groupware system.In this article I propose a fourth option that is really options two (run Exchange) and three (run another mail system) combined.
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In defense of this solution - the author
by on Tue 19th Jul 2005 02:28 UTC

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It is funny how so many people got their knickers in a bunch over this piece.

Sure, this solution is a hack, but it works and can support a small organization without compromising stability. If you are a large organization, you have moved to Exchange 2000/2003 already or better yet Postfix/Cyrus/LDAP/iCal.

I really think it is strange that people are mentioning other solutions that cost as much as a full upgrade to Exchange '03. This solution costs a small company very little, yet there is no compromise on stablility, the only hit has been performance which is mitigated by offloading mail handling to the true mail server (postfix/cyrus).

Remember this solution is aimed at small companies trying to extend the life of a product that they are locked into. MS no longer supports Exchange 5.5, they do offer special paid support until Dec. 2005, but if you are willing to pay those prices, you would lay out the cash for a new server (with a gigs of ram and tons of drive capacity), purchase Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003, and of course buy the CAL's.

The reality is many small companies (with less than 40 users) use Exchange 5.5, but think it sucks that they must spend close to $10,000 USD to run the new Exchange, when the old Exchange is doing what they want. Don't even try to mention SBS, because all in one servers from MS are a load of crap and about as stable as J Dahmer.

I think Exchange is a hack, each new version is better than the last, but a server should not need to be rebooted monthly, and Windows Server needs reboots. I also think Outlook sucks, it's support of LDAP is a joke and for some reason (vendor lock-in?) IMAP support still is funky.

The most progressive companies I deal with have migrated away from Outlook and Exchange, but baby steps saved alot of headaches. This is a baby step that is easy to implement. I can setup the whole system with 20 users in about 4 hours. The maintenance is no worse than running Exchange by itself.

I've run this solution at over a dozen companies. Exchange only works as shared addressbook and calendar server, since its mail handling capabilites have always been sub-par. I'll bet that my uptimes are equal or better than pure Exchange 2000/2003 shops. I'll also bet that this solution costs less in TCO than a 2003 Exchange setup. Learning Active Directory isn't free and Exchange 2003 is as different to Exchange 5.5 as Kolab2 is.

Everybody should calm down and look at it for what it is, a baby step hack that eases the transition from proprietary non-standard(s) based mail to OSS, standards based mail.



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