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Ten things to know before you migrate to Exchange 2013

An upgrade to Exchange 2013 involves more work if you're on Exchange 2003, but if it includes the features and capabilities your organization needs, the extra effort could be worth it.

Since Microsoft recently halted its support for Exchange Server 2003, organizations running that version should look to upgrade to a supported version. This series highlights the currently supported versions. We've looked at what organizations can expect if they move from Exchange 2003 to either Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010. We'll look at Exchange 2013 here.

If your organization wants to migrate to Exchange 2013, expect it to involve more work, said Michael Van Horenbeeck, Exchange MVP and SearchExchange contributor. There's no direct way to migrate from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013, so an organization will need to perform what's called a "double-hop migration." This means an organization has to migrate to Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 first -- Exchange 2010 is recommended -- and then migrate to Exchange 2013 once Exchange 2003 is fully decommissioned, Van Horenbeeck said.

Migrating to Exchange 2013 from Exchange 2003 presents some challenges, but the work could be worth it if Exchange 2013 has what your organization needs. Let's look at the features and capabilities in Exchange 2013 and how to have a successful migration.

1. Why you should consider Exchange 2013

There are three main reasons to consider implementing Exchange 2013. Our Exchange expert says to make the switch to Exchange 2013 whether you plan to stay on-premises for a while or if you want a version of Exchange to use until you think Exchange Online is ready.

2. Exchange 2013 features worth a second (and third) look

If you look at some of the features in Exchange 2013, you'll notice how crucial they can be in terms of easing administration. Learn how to put these features to use and their potential benefits in an organization.

3. Exchange 2013 includes tighter integration with SharePoint

Exchange 2013 includes two features that give organizations the tools to better integrate with SharePoint: site mailboxes, which can log communication between team members; and in-place discovery, which can simplify compliance.

4. E-discovery and compliance features get a boost in Exchange 2013

Exchange 2010 made great strides in terms of compliance features, but Exchange 2013 includes some major improvements that can benefit organizations in terms of in-place holds and discovery.

5. Exchange 2013 can ease compliance in organizations

No matter what technologies come and go, compliance continues to stand the test of time. Exchange 2013 has a number of features that can help organizations stay compliant, but keep in mind that none of them are standalone options.

6. Data Loss Prevention gives policy control back to admins

Admins should be happy with the DLP feature in Exchange 2013 because it allows them to set and enforce message content rules for their organizations, something which used to require heavy use of third-party apps.

7. Plenty of improvements in Exchange 2013 for RBAC management

Role-based access control didn't receive a warm welcome in Exchange 2010, but RBAC is a good option for admins who want to delegate a limited number of tasks to offload routine tasks. It works best if you understand custom and default role groups.

8. Calendar sharing gets easier in Exchange 2013

Some built-in features in Exchange 2013 allow end users to share calendars internally while being able to have external collaborations. You can enable it in a number of ways, but the simplest way is to enable the standards-compliant, built-in feature.

9. Exchange 2013 supports open-source tools for load balancing

Certain improvements in Exchange 2013 mean organizations don't need to depend on expensive load-balancing options. The setup process is less complicated because it's simple to install and you don't need constant maintenance to keep it running.

10. Migrate to Exchange 2013 in 12 steps

Even though the process for migrating to Exchange 2013 is different for every organization, there are 12 steps organizations can use as a guideline. Additional steps will be required if you want to include capabilities such as unified messaging.

Next Steps

Moving from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007

Moving from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010

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Does your organization currently use Exchange Server 2003? What version would you like to upgrade to?