Monday, September 1, 2008

Five rules for successfully switching to Exchange without tears


By Adrienne Gonzalez

In May of this year, the powers that be at my company decided our current email provider was not offering us the kind of power we needed to meet our ever-expanding list of needs. Our servers were getting hacked and disgruntled recipients from all over the world were having us blacklisted one-by-one, with little or no recourse available to us.

We just had to sit back helplessly and watch our good name be tainted by French spammers connecting us to "enhancement" drugs, live streaming webcams, and some sites so sketchy they didn't even link to anything with legible characters or letter combinations.

"I've had a child and still cannot quite decide which was more challenging."

Exchange appeared to be our only option. We were promised it would be more secure, faster, and easier for us to control.

What no one seemed to point out was, that of our entire company, my office manager was probably the only one technically-inclined enough to understand what exactly Exchange did and how we were supposed to tame it like the beast it was. Problem was, he didn't really get it either.

Switching to Exchange proved to be quite the learning experience and, from it, I developed five important rules for anyone planning to make the jump. In this article, I'll explain each rule.

Rule #1: triple-check out your consultants

If you are going to pay a third party a whole bunch of money to hold your hand through the process, make sure he's not going to pull a bait and switch. A lot of companies will promise you they will be there with you to set up your boss's Windows Mobile smartphone and your firm director's Outlook client, even though he's two whole states away.

Well guess what? No one really helped us. And when they did, we were told to import mailboxes that exceeded most of our individual space limits. Some of us, to this day, still have triplicate calendars and reminders. If you aren't entertained by 36 annoying orange reminders first thing in the morning, I'd suggest making sure your "consultant" can deliver on his promises. Check review sites. Google is your friend. Ask for references and then ask those references for references.

Rule #2: Don't import your entire Outlook profile

Rule #2 (a direct lesson learned from the torture of Rule #1) is this: do not import your entire old Outlook profile. Your friends may be doing this and maybe you just want to be cool like them, but they are not cool.

You can keep everything in your new Exchange profile without sacrificing any space on your pretty new server by adding your old Outlook profile into the new one.