There are multiple reasons.  All of the best ones (i.e. most compelling)
revolve around security.  It's getting to the point where it is difficult to
find a way to penetrate a company's defenses attacking things in layer 6 and
below.  Wireless is a temporary exception, but most attacks are now launched
in the application layer, and most of those are focused on e-mail.  The
reason that people use e-mail should be obvious:
- you willingly accept bits from outside, so long as they meet certain
criteria.
- mail clients are supplied as a part of every version of Windows and have
enough similarity to make a virus type of attack easier to proliferate.
- because of the variability of attachments, the level of complexity and
thus the chances that an undefended hole can be found are both very high.

There are lots of way to envision attacking via e-mail.  Most will be
client-centric, but attacking the servers is not an unimaginable scenario.
What a messaging product that is "currently supported by the vendor" buys
you is a rapid response to security issues that are frankly guaranteed to
arise.  Just to protect yourself, it is an absolute necessity of life on the
net to keep your product in a "currently supported by the vendor" state.

That only leaves one question, what is the best strategy for moving it
forward?

There is no one right answer.  If you are a large enterprise that is
guaranteed to be hit by every virus that comes along, then you need to keep
current with every hot fix that comes along, and you need to rev through
each version so make sure that you are getting the most rapid response to
hot fix requirements that might arise.  If you are smaller, then this is
probably unnecessary.  However, there is another issue.

Generally speaking, and this is a very broad and unspecific generality, the
migration tools are easier to use and the chance of a "system administration
induced data loss event" are minimized if you make routine small incremental
steps that are a part of your regular activities.  The more infrequently you
do something, and the more rev levels that you skip, the greater the chance
is that you will make a mess of it.  What you want are consistent processes,
not irregular fire drills.  Fire drills will cost you more than you will
save by not having a routine.

Long ago I stopped believing in using backup tools as a means of recovering
from data losses.  In my experience, there are really only two common causes
of data loss:
1. the deliberate actions of users that are not well thought out
2. sys admin mistakes in performing a fire drill restoration

This is not to say that you should not be familiar with backup tools, nor
that you should not use them at all, but you should recognize that they have
a limited value, and tend to be more useful for hardware upgrades than
almost anything else.

What, you might ask, has this digression on backup have to do with keeping a
mail system current?  Let's say you are now two versions behind, quickly on
the back of an envelope list all of the steps that you are going to perform
when you do get around to your next upgrade.  I think the point of my
digression will become obvious . . .


-----Original Message-----
From: Chinnery Paul [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]]
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 9:38 AM
To: Exchange Discussions
Subject: life cycle of Exchange


We all know that Microsoft has announced the planned end of support for NT
4.0.

I know they had a link which listed life-cycles of various products but I
can't seem to find it anymore.  I've search under "life-cycle," "product
life-cycle," etc, etc.

Does anybody have a link or can tell me any planned end for support for
Exchange 5.5?

We're trying to convince administration to replace our servers and move 100%
to Windows 2000.  They, of course, ar balking at it so we're coming up with
every, stinkin' little bit of reason we can.  

For some reason, just saying "...cause we believe it's a good idea..." just
doesn't seem to be an acceptable argument.

Thanks,

Paul Chinnery
Network Administrator
Mem Med Ctr



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