I still run across businesses every few months that to my amazement are running Exchange 5.5 even though it was released almost 10 years ago in November of 1997. For these businesses I cannot think of a better way to celebrate their mail servers 10th anniversary than throwing it in the dumpster out back. Honestly though, if your business is still running Exchange 5.5 it is time to upgrade for many reasons including:
- It’s not supported by Microsoft anymore
- It doesn’t work with Active Directory
- Unless you have Enterprise edition you are limited to 16GB per database; Good luck finding an upgrade from Standard to Enterprise.
- Outlook 2007 is now incompatible with Exchange 5.5 and requires 2000 at a minimum
- Microsoft Entourage for Mac is incompatible with Exchange 5.5. Now that Intel Macs can’t run Microsoft Outlook 2001:mac, Entourage needs to work if you plan on having new Intel Macs in your organization.
- Your ancient hardware is probably on its way out or it can’t be depended on. (yes, you could move your Exchange server to Virtual Machines)
Before you start the process of moving from Exchange 5.5, I suggest purchasing your new Exchange 2007 server(s) and setup a virtual machine running Windows 2003/Exchange 2003. There is no way to move directly from Exchange 5.5 to 2007 so you are going to need a virtual bridge. I highly recommend Microsoft’s free Virtual Server 2005 R2. There are two great articles that I have found that outline the steps and concerns that will need to be addressed. The first article is the original Microsoft knowledge base article on moving from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003, and the second is an overview from the MS Exchange Team Blog on the general process of moving from 5.5 to 2007.