Somewhere around 15 years ago, I can remember building out an Exchange 2003 infrastructure – unpacking boxes, setting up servers (I still have my trusty toolkit – can’t assemble servers without a good set of tools), installing Windows Server and all the needed features, installing Exchange, setting up backups, testing everything out, then spending weeks migrating e-mail from old legacy systems. It was a lot of work, with many late nights watching migrations. But that was the way you did things.
And who knows how well the backups worked months later, after the system had been in use, filling up with lots of new e-mail. A few years later, just before I joined Microsoft, a hardware failure took out the disk storage on a different e-mail cluster (and of course, that was the cluster holding the CEO’s e-mail). Restoring that from tape eventually worked, but it took a long time. (That might be some math that you want to do: If you lose a storage array, and it’s backed up onto X tapes, how long will those X tapes take to restore? If the answer is more than, say, 8 hours, then your backup infrastructure might be under-sized.)
Fast forward to what you can do today. I went from acquiring Microsoft 365 E5 licenses to having a fully-functional e-mail system in about an hour – and a good portion of that time was me reading the instructions and not believing that it could possibly be that easy. The basic steps are performed from https://admin.microsoft.com: complete the needed DNS configuration (automated by a wizard because I was using GoDaddy for my DNS domain), assign licenses to users, and that’s it. No need to worry about clusters, backups, patching, etc. It just works. Granted, I didn’t have any e-mail to migrate, but even that process doesn’t look too hard (compared to what I had done years ago – ugh, cc:Mail). And sure, I already had Azure AD set up with the domain that I wanted to use and user UPNs configured for that domain, so I had put at least a little thought into this in advance.
It’s no surprise that you now find articles like “How and when to decommission your on-premises Exchange servers in a hybrid deployment.” (Heck, I didn’t even know there was an Exchange Server 2019 release.)
Certainly the time is now for cloud-based e-mail systems. But the same is likely true for other systems as well. What’s next for your organization?