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Quocirca's changing channels Over 60 per cent of businesses who manage their email internally use Microsoft Exchange Server for all or part of their requirement. Less than half of these are using the latest version – Exchange Server 2003. There is a significant opportunity for resellers if these organisations can be persuaded it is worth the money and effort to upgrade.

The opportunity is not just in the cost of the software upgrade and the services to get it up and running, there is also significant added value that can be sold around Exchange 2003 compared to older versions. Furthermore, customers are also likely to need beefed-up hardware to make use of it all. A convincing case needs to be made; so how can resellers convince the laggards?

There are two angles of attack. The first is to remind businesses how important email is to them these days, the impact that down time has and to show that Exchange Server 2003 can reduce business risk. Secondly, resellers should underline the benefits reaped by those have that already made the move.

Think back 10 years – if a customer had said they would email an order to a supplier, they would have been laughed at. It is highly unlikely that either organisation would have known how to exchange an email with the other and, even if they did, it would not have been considered a legal transaction. Exchange Server V5.5, which is still used by about one fifth of all Exchange users, was developed against this background.

Today more than half of businesses regularly take orders by email and nearly all recognise that email is now a fundamental part of their business processes. Few think more than a day of down time is acceptable and many consider a few hours intolerable. A major driver of this sensitivity around the availability of email is due to its impact on customer communications. In short, anything that minimises down-time of an email server reduces business risk.

The overwhelming majority of organisations that have moved to Exchange Server 2003 recognised an increase in reliability and performance relative to the older versions Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000.

But those who have made the move also recognise a range of value added benefits including; better services for users making them more productive, enhanced support for mobile users and better integration with other Microsoft software, such as portals and office applications.

In fact many organisations see the introduction of Exchange Server 2003 as a good time to introduce portal technology – these days Microsoft’s Sharepoint Portal Server is a relatively cheap add-on to Exchange. This is also selling the future – O12 the next major version of Microsoft Office will make extensive use of Sharepoint for sharing templates, documents and data between users.

Microsoft is ending support to Exchange V5.5 at the end of this year and the 20 per cent or so of customers using that version really should be making the move. But resellers do not need to resort to scare tactics to convince the laggards to upgrade. There are plenty of other compelling reasons for making the move to Exchange Server 2003 – a sound business case can be made.

© Quocirca

Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focussed on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca (www.quocirca.com) is a UK based perceptional research and analysis firm with a focus on the European market.

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