Friday, July 28, 2006

Exchange 2007: What's the big deal?

Now that Exchange 2007 Beta 2 is out, I feel comfortable writing publicly about features. I have already talked to a number of clients, readers, and conference attendees about the compelling features of Exchange 2007. Moving to Exchange 2007 is going to be an adjustment for many organizations; certainly for medium and large organizations learning the Exchange Management Shell tasks / cmdlets is going to be a learning curve. Adjusting to the fact that all recipient management is now performed through the Exchange Management Console rather than Active Directory Users and Computers is going to be another adjustment.

However, despite some adjustments that some organizations will have to make, Exchange 2007 is a nice, big step forward in messaging technology. Considering the number of changes, this is not quite a 5.5 to 2003 move, but it is certainly far bigger than a 2000 to 2003 move.

So, what are they features that are going to trigger organizations to start their moves? I am excited about a number of features that Exchange 2007 is going to bring to the table. For most of my clients, improved availability and recoverability are going to be two of the key factors that will influence the decision to migrate sooner rather than later. Clustered Continuous Replication (CCR) and Local Continuous Replication (LCR) are two significant steps forward for recoverability and higher availability. LCR enables you to keep replicated copies of Exchange databases on the local server. CCR enables you to have a cluster that does not depend on shared storage, but rather replicates a copy of the database (through log shipping) to the passive node.

I am also very fond of the Exchange Management Shell (EMS). ANYTHING you want to do with Exchange 2007 can now be done from the command prompt or scripted. However, some tasks that medium and large organizations (or maybe even small ones) will want to do are only done from the EMS and that is going to be a big adjustment for those of us that are GUI-oriented.

What are some other key features that will influence your decision to migrate? Well, here are a list of my favorite new features (in no particular order):

  • Unified messaging (voice mail, faxing, Outlook Voice Access)
  • Per-User Safe Sender and Blocked Sender lists
  • Transport rules (disclaimers, message security, attachment filtering)
  • E-mail Lifecycle Management
  • Server side rules and message transport policies
  • OWA SharePoint document access
  • Improved message transport security
  • Simplified Exchange Management Console
  • Improved anti-spam features
  • Outlook 32KB rules limit gone!
  • Calendar Concierge
  • 64-bit architecture improves scalablability (more RAM), improved caching, and up-to 50 mailbox stores which allows larger mailboxes and faster backups/restores.
  • Greatly improved OWA including browse-able GAL and remote device wipe
  • Consistent scripting interface via the Exchange Management Shell
  • Auto-discovery for Outlook 2007
  • Customizable over-quota and NDR messages
  • Per-Recipient Journaling
  • Schedule-able Out-Of-Office messages
  • Message routing based on Active Directory sites
  • No more Administrative Groups!
  • Restore databases to any server

Note that some of these new features WILL require that the client be updated to Outlook 2007 also!


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