Thursday, June 08, 2006

What’s new in Microsoft Exchange 12 / Microsoft Exchange 2007?

Following are the new features / improvements in Exchange 2007:

1) Exchange 2007 will be available only in 64-bit version. The objective behind this move according to Microsoft is that messaging has become mission critical application for most organizations, and complexities in terms of email usage through multiple clients, security considerations using multiple security groups and IPSec has pushed the servers at the extreme end of hardware capacity which can be supported on a 32-bit architecture. Hence the result for most organizations is, increase in the number of Exchange servers which add up to cost and manageability issues. Hence, if there is only a 64-bit version available, the companies could consolidate their servers and save on cost and benefit from lesser complexity. Exchange 2007 with run on x64 and not on Itanium (IA 64). Exchange 2007 will run on 64-bit versions of Windows 2003 Server or Windows 2003 R2 server.

2) The Unified Messaging feature of Exchange 2007 is a mind-boggling one. It provides the feature to combine email, phone (voicemails) and fax in a single system. For example, the voicemails and fax will now be delivered directly to the users mailbox. It will also save costs for companies by preventing them from maintaining three separate systems. What great flexibility will this provide for users who are mobile and can now check on their smart phones about a fax received in the office!

3) Another great feature is Outlook Voice Access (OVA). Using our traditional phone systems, we can call into the voicemail systems and retrieve or delete our voice mails. With a voicemail system integrated with Exchange 2007, not only will the voice mails be accessible, but the mails and calendar entries will also be read out by the voicemail system. This means that if you are traveling, and running out of battery of your laptop and want to check on a few mails, all you need to do is call up the voicemail system and ask it to read the mails out for you. You can also reply, forward or delete mails.

4) If a mailbox has to be moved from one Exchange server to another, in the current version the users Outlook session will have to be terminated. However, in Exchange 2007, the mailbox move between servers is absolutely transparent to the user and his Outlook will keep functioning as ever. This will help the IT department to quickly move the mailboxes if a particular Exchange server needs to be taken offline for unplanned maintenance. They can undertake this activity any time during the day without bothering to inform the users.

5) Exchange 2007 comes with a UNIX style command-line management shell called as ‘Monad’. This command line interface provides an ultimate management experience and allows the administrator to perform everything using the command line or scripts which could traditionally only be done using GUI. Refer to the picture below

6) The Exchange System Manager has a component called as Toolbox. This comes built-in with Exchange Server Best Practice Analyzer, Exchange Server Performance Monitor and Exchange Queue Viewer. This makes the day-to-day task of the Admin team further simpler, by providing a common interface to perform their value added activities.

7) A log-shipping type of backup mechanism has been introduced in Exchange 2007. Like in SQL, log-shipping can be used to replicate the changes made to the database server to a different server. In case of the first server crash, the second server has the complete data and can be brought online pretty quickly without restoration tapes. This feature is called as ‘Continuous Backup’ in Exchange 2007. With this feature, disaster recovery or a single mailbox recovery will become a breeze in Exchange 2007.

8) Thankfully, there will be no more STM files. Unfortunately, STM files were known to grow in size all of a sudden, and produce all kind of problems, most of the times due to antivirus settings issues. Exchange 2007 will have a different mechanism for providing web content.

9) Exchange 2007 can host up to 50 databases on a single server with the Enterprise edition and can use up to 2 billion log files.


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