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What to look for in Exchange 2010 SP2

Scott Lowe takes a first look at Exchange 2010 SP2 and highlights the most significant new features for you, including the reappearance of Outlook Mobile.

Back in May, Microsoft announced that the company would be releasing Service Pack 2 for Exchange Server 2010 before the end of the year.  On December 5, 2011, Microsoft made good on that commitment.  Although SP2 doesn't have quite the punch that SP1 did, it does include some pretty compelling enhancements.

Installation

Before we get into those enhancements, however, I'm going to run through a quick installation of the product to give you a feel for what to expect when you do it yourself.

To get started, download SP2 from Microsoft's download site. Unpack the downloaded file to a location on your Exchange server and then double-click Setup.exe.  The SP2 installer looks pretty much like every other Exchange 2010 installer out there so it should be pretty familiar for Exchange administrators.

As a part of the upgrade process, the installer performs a number of prerequisite checks. In my lab environment in which I have Exchange installed, I ran into two issues, only one of which was a showstopper (Figure A).
  • I'm missing SMTP/Send Connector. I don't need one for how I use Exchange in my lab, so I can safely ignore this message.
  • I'm missing the IIS 6 WMI Compatibility component. This one is a deal breaker so I need to address it. To do so, open the Server Manager component, select the IIS role and click Add Role Services. Select the IIS 6 WMI compatibility component and then run through the rest of the Select Role Services wizard (Figure B).

Figure A

In my lab, I'm missing an SP2 prerequisite.

Figure B

Here's the service that needs to be added.

Once you've added the necessary component, go back to the Exchange installer and click the Retry button.  The error message will go away.  Once all errors are cleared, you can move forward with the installation process.

Figure C

The upgrade is in progress.

The feature set

SP2 includes a few new features and reintroduces others. Here's a look at a four.

Outlook Mobile

Most notably, SP2 resurrects Outlook Mobile which is an extremely lightweight version of OWA.  For those with older mobile devices or that are on very slow networks, OMA might be a useful tool.  I should point out, however, that OMA is not loaded through the use of browser-based user agent strings. For those that want to use OMA, the full URL to the mobile version must be specified as such: https://mailservername/owa/oma. You will be prompted to provide user name and password when you browse to this link.

Here are a few looks at OMA in Exchange 2010:

Figure D

Your initial window into OMA

Figure E

There is one message waiting for the user

Figure F

A message being read in OMA

Figure G

Replying to a message

Figure H

Another look at a message reply

Hybrid configuration wizard

The introduction of SP2 brings with it new ease in either completely migrating to Office 365 or enabling the ability to have on and off premises Exchange/Office 365 implementation coexist. This kind of feature will gain importance as organizations begin to more seriously consider cloud-based alternatives to data center-based applications. These kinds of hybrid scenarios raise new federation challenges; the user experience must remain consistent. Running through the complete hybrid configuration scenario enables the following:

  • Federated free/busy sharing between on-premises and cloud-based implementations.
  • The ability to perform mailbox moves between on-premises servers and those in the cloud.
  • Integrated message tracking to allow the recording of SMTP activity between on and off premises implementations.
  • Outlook Web App redirection in order to provide users with a single URL regardless of the mailbox location.

Microsoft has created a TechNet section to fully explain the Hybrid Configuration Wizard.

Cross-site silent redirection for Outlook Web App

Exchange 2010 allows a Client Access Server to proxy requests for other Client Access Servers. When the new cross-site silent redirection capability added in SP2 is enabled, a user with a mailbox in an Active Directory site who accesses OWA in another Active Directory site will be silently redirected to the OWA URL for the home Active Directory site.

To do this, the Exchange administrator needs to make use of a new parameter - CrossSiteRedirectType - that exists on the Set-OWAVirtualDirectory cmdlet. This cross-site redirection capability is described here.

Address book policies

Brand new in Service Pack 2 comes a solution for something that has plagued Exchange administrators for years - the ability to quickly and easily segment the Global Address List and present a customized view to different sets of users. There have been different solutions to this over the years, but Microsoft has made this a cornerstone feature in SP2 called Address Book Policies, although the feature is not yet supported in Office 365 deployments. Further, users inside a corporate network using Entourage or Office for Mac will not receive segmented policies due to the way that the client receives address book information. Outlook for Mac 2011 users that are connecting from outside the network, however, can view a customized address book.

An Address Book Policy in SP2 includes a large number of Microsoft-recommended best practices which, depending on how you have you existing organization configured, might make you think twice about the feature. For example, mailbox servers using ABPs must all be at SP2 and you may run into problems if you run the Client Access Server role on a server which is also a global catalog server.

An ABP must contain the following:

  • One Global Address List.
  • One Offline Address Book.
  • One room list. This is required in an ABP. Even if you don't use these in your company, you still need to add an empty room list.
  • One or more address lists.

Learn more about ABPs by visiting this TechNet article.

Summary

These are three new features found in Exchange 2010 SP2. They are features that can impact the user experience in a positive way.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

2 comments
jamezparker
jamezparker

Hi, I am quite excited for new release of SP2 and I've been looking for some ISV for an easy go to manage Exchange as one I am using is custom app which is not suitable for Exchange 2010. I have not found anyone other than MachSol (www.machsol.com) to provide control panel supporting SP2 and here is their announcement for Exchange 2010 SP2 support (http://blog.machsol.com/microsoft-exchange/microsoft-exchange-2010-sp2-now-supported-in-machpanel). I Googled a lot but no provider is yet ready so far. What do you suggest or do you know of any solution provider for Exchange 2010 SP2? Thanks. J.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Once it has worked successfully in test for about 3-months we'll enjoy putting it in production.