Microsoft Exchange 2013 and Office 2013 will reach their end of life on 11 April 2023. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, bug fixes, and technical support for these products. This means that any new vulnerabilities discovered in these programs will go unpatched, making it easy for cybercriminals to exploit and attack your systems. It’s therefore crucial to upgrade your software as soon as possible. 

What software upgrades are available for businesses?

Microsoft offers both on-premises and cloud-based upgrades. If you want to continue using on-premises solutions, upgrade to the latest versions of Microsoft products: Exchange Server 2019 and Office 2021

On the other hand, you can migrate to Microsoft 365 if you want a future-proof upgrade. With this option, you’ll always have the latest versions of Microsoft products and features as they’re released. Office productivity apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will run on the cloud, making it easy to share and collaborate on documents. Microsoft 365 also offers Exchange Online, a secure cloud-based email solution that lets administrators set custom email policies. 

What are the benefits of running up-to-date systems?

Updating your software provides a host of benefits for businesses: 

Stronger cybersecurity 

Using the latest versions of software helps you defend against the newest threats. For example, malicious code embedded in older Office productivity software is capable of accessing sensitive information on a compromised device. However, Office apps in Microsoft 365 are built to block any untrusted code within documents by default. Additionally, the advanced threat protection and encryption features of Exchange Online receive regular updates. 

Improved compliance

Many compliance regulations like the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Essential Eight Maturity Model require organisations to install the latest software patches. By complying with these requirements, you can avoid data breaches and hefty fines. Using updated software also assures your clients that your company takes cybersecurity seriously. 

Increased productivity

The latest versions of software often come with new features and capabilities designed to make users more productive. For instance, Outlook in Microsoft 365 includes a Focused Inbox that uses machine learning to sort your email into two tabs: ‘Focused’ and ‘Other’. This can help you quickly find the messages that are most important to you. 

Reduced IT costs

Ongoing maintenance for end-of-life software can be costly because your IT department will need to create custom fixes for issues that Microsoft no longer supports. By upgrading to the latest versions of Microsoft products, you can reduce your IT costs as you’ll no longer have to pay for legacy IT support. What’s more, Microsoft 365 allows you to instantly scale up user accounts, storage, and features without having to set up additional servers.

How do you move from Exchange 2013 to Microsoft 365?

The process of moving from Office 2013 to Microsoft 365 is fairly straightforward. Simply provision user accounts, sync your files to the cloud, and use productivity apps like normal. However, moving from Exchange 2013 to Microsoft 365 is far more nuanced. There are several steps you must take to ensure a smooth transition: 

1. Prepare for the migration

First, inventory all email addresses, decommission unused accounts, and determine how much storage space you’ll need. Your company network must also be stable and secure. This means optimising router positions and internet bandwidth, updating firewalls, and using intrusion prevention systems. Lastly, create an appropriate migration schedule. The best time for many businesses is outside office hours to avoid diverting too much internet bandwidth away from normal operations.   

2. Select a data migration process

There are three options for migrating your company’s mailboxes from Exchange Server 2013 to Exchange Online: express, staged, and hybrid. 

  • Express migrations involve using the Exchange administration centre to directly upload email accounts from on-premises servers to the cloud. This approach is only possible for organisations with fewer than 2,000 mailboxes. 
  • Staged migration is used when your company has to migrate more than 2,000 mailboxes. With this approach, you group emails and mailboxes into batches and move them gradually to Microsoft 365. 
  • Hybrid migrations sync emails between on-premises and Exchange Online accounts, serving as the halfway point before fully migrating to the cloud.  

3. Set up Microsoft 365 accounts and begin migration

Activate your Microsoft 365 account and provision licences for each person through the Admin Centre. Then connect Microsoft 365 to your email system by going to Exchange admin centre > Recipients > Migration > Migration endpoints > New. From here, you can register the email addresses to be migrated, set access restrictions, and migrate company mailboxes.  

4. Uninstall Exchange 2013 

When you’ve successfully migrated all mailboxes to Microsoft 365, you can now get rid of Exchange 2013. To do this, go to System settings > Add or remove programs and uninstall Exchange Server 2013. 

If you’re with Exchange 2013 or Office 2013 migrations, you can always rely on Empower IT. As a leading managed IT services provider, we can simplify and facilitate the entire migration process. This way, you can immediately enjoy the full benefits of using up-to-date software. Contact us now to kick-start your migration.

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