The upcoming end-of-support deadline presents serious risks for late adopters and significant opportunity for IT professionals. Here is how MSPs can create new business by urging customers not to wait until the last minute to upgrade.

The end of support for Microsoft Exchange 2010 is approaching and MSPs must take note. The end-of-support deadline on Oct. 13, 2020, might concern many late adopters, as it will present several dilemmas for businesses who haven’t upgraded. Those risks include no more Microsoft technical assistance with documentation, phone support or general troubleshooting; no more protective updates, bug fixes and security patches to ward off ransomware or cyberattacks; and potentially severe compliance issues for enterprises running outdated Exchange software that no longer adheres to industry regulation standards.

These are serious risks and a terrifying proposition for those caught flat-footed and unprepared. But while daunting, the deadline presents an advantageous window for managed service providers and IT professionals. It allows them to not only come to the rescue, but also generate new business by assuring that their customers’ software is upgraded, secure and fully compliant. 

For those who adequately prepare ahead of the October deadline, there is much opportunity to capitalize before that happens. We’ve addressed the implications of utilizing Exchange 2010 past the end-of-support date, now let’s explore the options for a new destination and the broader service opportunity this deadline presents.

A Cloud Solution

Simply put, your first question will be, “Where are we headed?” There are two main options. The first option is to make the leap to the cloud and immediately upgrade to Exchange Online/Office 365. This cloud-based software offers an array of benefits, including automatic updates, data loss prevention and disaster recovery.

This option is opportune for clients who are ready to break from an on-prem environment. By most accounts, this is the preferred option from the Microsoft perspective, as the industry leader continues to nudge enterprises off-prem and into its cloud suite with the consistent rollout of new features and products, like the Microsoft Office suite, SharePoint and Teams. This route also affords streamlined adoption of current enhancements, as upgrading assures your company is guaranteed the latest version of Exchange, plus all the functionality and applications without maintaining on-prem hardware. Organizations are ensured their software is consistent and appropriately upgraded companywide.

Of course, businesses that take this path will be susceptible to price changes from Microsoft, as it has instituted increases in the past. But the pros vastly outweigh the cons and will lead to an enhanced work environment for your client. 

A Hybrid Upgrade

For many organizations, moving email and personal archives to the cloud may not be possible or pragmatic for a variety of business reasons. These organizations may be protective of their company’s email and want more control of their data within their own workplace system. Or they simply need to continue relying on on-prem hardware for their workflows and therefore require a hybrid upgrade. In this instance, the second option would be their preferred strategy: to upgrade to Exchange 2016/2019.

Migrating to a newer instance of Exchange keeps your company protected against the implications of an out-of-date server. Again, once Exchange 2010 enters end of support, it won’t be patched for any new viruses or security problems, leaving late adopters exceedingly vulnerable to emerging threats. The new instance of Exchange allows for boosted security and sturdy, tried and true recovery and backup options for your data. The upgrade also offers enhanced performance and manageability for end users. Depending on the organization and its size, this option may even prove more cost-effective for on-prem users, requiring a one-time expense instead of an ongoing operational rate. Should you embark upon a hybrid deployment, it may ultimately offer the best of both on-prem and cloud environments.

But take note: The move from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2019 will require a “double-hop” migration, meaning the business will first need to migrate to Exchange 2013 or 2016. While there are a host of upgrades that need to happen in this scenario, utilizing a tool like BitTitan’s MigrationWiz helps avoid this middle step by migrating data directly from Exchange 2010 to 2019. 

A Digital Makeover

There may also be opportunity for MSPs, beyond simply updating Exchange 2010, to install and integrate a new workplace plan, especially for those who are hesitant to embrace new technologies. Exchange is only a single component here, but as significant as it is considering the impending deadline, it can potentially be leveraged toward a more transformational and holistic project to enhance a client’s digital environment.

For example, Windows 7 support ends in January 2020. This product remains popular, as Netmarketshare reported earlier this year that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs, creating ample opportunity for migration projects. With Windows 10 now included in the Microsoft 365 bundle, a pitch could be made that the Exchange 2010 upgrade provides a good window to perform both of those migrations at once. SharePoint 2010 also presents an opportunity for IT pros. Its end-of-support deadline will follow shortly on Oct. 13, 2020, and the migration options are similar for an upgraded on-prem instance or the full transition to Office 365. The timeline is convenient for many migration projects – and underscores the importance for IT pros to act. 

Every Windows product has a finite lifecycle and dealing with it isn’t always easy. Yet this end-of-support instance is about more than just upgrading software. Perhaps most salient is that enterprises still clinging to Exchange 2010 are missing out on a host of Office 365 functionalities that hold the potential to significantly enhance their work environment. Don’t let a customer’s hesitance to change interfere with their ability to scale their business and don’t let them put their business at risk. Trusted managed service providers should leverage this major end-of-support cycle to lead their customers toward better technological functionality and service by helping them navigate an ever-evolving cloud landscape. It’s an opportune time for MSPs to revisit their client portfolio and make sure each customer is upgraded, secure and compliant. By introducing them to more comprehensive, integrated and holistic options, both IT professionals and their customers can operate more productively, collaboratively and securely. It’s best for business for all parties involved.

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