Microsoft split, Exchange 2K news marks day at TechEd

What's it like to be at a Microsoft show when the feds announce the intention to split the company up? Chris Tellez can tell you. He's in Florida attending TechEd 2000, and he's got news on Exchange 2000, too.

It is a dark day for Microsoft. The Justice Department declared that Microsoft’s empire be split.

Yesterday Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled to break Microsoft up into two companies as punishment for its violation of state and federal antitrust laws. This decision wasn’t surprising, but it makes for an interesting mood at one of Microsoft’s premier conferences: TechEd.

The ruling was released around 4:30 P.M. EST, about an hour-and-a-half before the end of the day’s TechEd sessions. Word trickled around, with most people learning from TVs in a small bar at the convention center. There were others who found out via the Web or e-mail. There was no real visible reaction from anyone, other than general disappointment that the judge had upheld the Justice Department’s recommendations.

From the few small conversations I had with other attendees, the consensus seems to be that it will take some time for this issue to be resolved. One comment was made, though, that might make one wonder what could really happen. The Supreme Court is currently composed of judges who were appointed by Republican presidents. The Justice Department is composed of a large number of Democrat-appointed officials. The friction between the two parties, and the Republican’s past tendencies to side with big business, could lead to the punishment being downgraded or the ruling overturned.

Gates will not go quietly into the night. He and his army of lawyers will appeal.

Meanwhile, IT professionals continue to learn the new Microsoft strategy at TechEd 2000 in Orlando. They are being taught the ways of XML, Biz Talk, and Active Directory. Soon their training will be complete, and they will return to IT departments with their newfound knowledge.

As the conference concludes today, it will be interesting to learn if the decision affects the mood of Microsoft employees or attendees.

Yesterday’s landmark news aside, I promised more information on Exchange 2000. I’m a man of my word.

The Exchange lowdown
Exchange implementation will need to be handled very carefully. Here are some steps that Microsoft recommends you follow for a successful Exchange migration:
  1. Plan where you want to take your systems. Evaluate the features and functions of Exchange 2000 and see what meets your needs. Develop your goal—and plan, plan, plan.
  2. Have a solid Windows 2000 deployment. Does this mean that Windows 2000 and Active Directory need to be completely deployed? Not at all. You can migrate to Exchange 2000 before you fully switch over to Windows 2000 and Active Directory thanks to the utilities built into Exchange 2000. There are more steps to deal with in this situation, but it is still possible. The easiest path, though, is to deploy and have Active Directory running well before rolling out Exchange 2000.
  3. Prepare Windows 2000 for Exchange 2000 by populating Active Directory with Exchange 5.5 information via the Active Directory Connector. Get your forest ready by running Forest Prep prior to the Exchange upgrade. Each domain needs to be readied by running Domain Prep.
  4. Expand the private store. The store will take some time to upgrade and will begin once the Exchange 2000 install is complete. While you should conduct the upgrade during off hours, and the store should finish before your users return to work, they will be able to resume working even if the process hasn’t been completed. The store will continue to run in its native 5.5 mode. As users log in to their mailboxes, their portion of the store will upgrade. You may be thinking, “I’ll just run the upgrade before the users come in and let it upgrade as each user logs on.” Don’t do it. You can, but your server will slow to a crawl.

For more information on Exchange 2000, check out Microsoft's Web site. If you have the chance, I recommend you take one of Microsoft’s HOTLab courses. They’re only $49. They’re advertised on the Exchange Web site, but hurry: The class ends June 30.

So what features and changes can you expect once you deploy Exchange 2000? Here are a few:
  • Multiple database support. Instead of having all of your mailboxes in one database as you do now with Exchange 5.5, you can now split them up. Each can be brought online or taken offline as you need to work on the system. This way, not all your eggs are in one basket.
  • Deleting a user mailbox isn’t necessarily a permanent thing. Exchange doesn’t permanently delete the mailbox until it reaches a specific time period. The default is seven days; this, of course, can be modified. If you find that a user mailbox was accidentally deleted, go back and restore it.
  • SMTP is solely used for mail delivery, plus more intelligent routing. Exchange 2000 will figure out which route will get the e-mail there the quickest and with the least amount of network bandwidth consumption.
  • Web store. Every item in Exchange 2000 has a URL. If you need to get to a particular folder in your mailbox, type folder from the Web and you’ll go right to it.
  • When searching for a user in the directory, both positive and negative results are cached. This reduces the Active Directory workload.
  • Outlook 2000 knows how to access the Global Catalog to find the information it needs.
  • Exchange 2000 uses Windows NT security to control access to public folders.

As you can see, there’s much to learn, and there’s much to look forward to. If you haven’t started learning Active Directory yet, start learning now.

That concludes today’s TechEd report. Tomorrow, I’ll wind up my reports from the show with an overview of the conference. I’ll go over the hits and misses and share some tips I learned about deploying Outlook 2000, managing Exchange 5.5, and configuring remote access for Exchange 5.5.

Christopher Tellez is a network manager based in southern California. He earned his MCSE in 1997.

If you'd like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.

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