Exchange on-premise for the Cloud?
Lee-Joe says she is also in discussions with many potential customers for Microsoft's hosted mail offering Exchange Online -- which is part of the software giant's broader Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).
Having common code with on-premises Exchange 2010 installations means some mailboxes can be hosted in the cloud, and others hosted by customers themselves. One example given by Lee-Joe was a corporation with an Australian head office, which hosted the mailboxes of its local staff internally, but let Microsoft host the mailboxes of its Asian offices in the cloud.
"We've been waiting for an ability to do this, and we finally have got it with Exchange 2010," she says.
Microsoft hasn't named any major Australian customers yet to do so, but the executive says the company is seeing more companies move to the cloud over the last three months "than ever before".
Dimension Data's Walshe says much of the interest around the cloud is coming from Lotus Notes or GroupWise customers who have struggled to get a business case through their company to migrate to Exchange, because the attitude from management was one of 'we've already got an email system that works'.
"They're now re-visiting," he said, arguing on the basis of flexibility and eliminating the need for on-premises equipment. Government agencies are also interested, although concern still exists about where data is hosted.
Walshe believes there will be a "bell curve" for cloud email adoption.
Organisations below 500 seats would be interested in the technology, he said, because they often don't have the in-house expertise to run their own email systems. Large organisations with more than 10,000 seats would also be interested -- because of the potential cost advantages around more easily scalable infrastructure.
But companies with only a few thousand staff probably had enough expertise in-house and were comfortable running on-premises solutions.
It's hard to quantify just how Exchange 2010 will do in Australia. But with the global financial crisis just about over for Australians and IT budgets starting to open up again, it's hard not to believe that there will be quite a few high-profile upgrades and migrations involving Exchange 2010 as the next several years roll on.
Users appear happy with the software so far, and Microsoft appears to have addressed some of the pain points that were holding Exchange back.
"They are little things, but when you add them up, they're more than the sum of their parts," says Walshe.
What do you think? Is Microsoft Exchange 2010 worth the upgrade? How does it compare with web-based email?