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Five Exchange 2010 gotchas and how to handle them

Before upgrading to Exchange 2010, there are five points of caution that administrators should understand. Scott Lowe discusses these Exchange 2010 gotchas and explains how to mitigate each one.

Exchange 2010 brings a lot to the table, including a better overall web experience, more flexible availability options, and improved unified messaging features. However, there are five points of caution that Exchange administrators should understand before embarking on an upgrade from an earlier version of the software.

1: Disk capacity and performance flip-flop

In earlier versions of Exchange, disk capacity trumped performance; this meant that organizations needed relatively expensive storage (from a performance perspective) to architect a system that could meet user expectations.

Although the shift to performance trumping capacity began in 2007, Exchange 2010 completes the process by fully eliminating deduplication in the software. This change has significantly reduced Exchange 2010's IOPS needs, but it has created a need for much more storage capacity to be designed into Exchange 2010 systems.

How to mitigate: Plan ahead! Use Microsoft's Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator as a first step in your planning process to figure out how much disk space you need. Also remember that Exchange 2010's availability mechanism (Database Availability Groups) have a major impact on capacity.

2: Full support and virtualization are still mutually exclusive goals for some

One of the beauties of the IOPS overhaul in Exchange 2010 is the ease with which Exchange 2010 lends itself to being virtualized. Virtualization of Exchange brings major benefits to the architecture, including heretofore unseen availability options and cost reductions. But, there is a catch: If you're planning on deploying Exchange 2010's Unified Messaging role, you can't get to the 100% virtual panacea and expect to receive support from Microsoft; the company still does not support the unified messaging role in a virtual environment, including the role running directly on a Hyper-V root.

How to mitigate: You have two options: 1) go virtual and go without support or 2) deploy the unified messaging role to dedicated virtual hardware.

3: No more fax

If you deployed Exchange 2007 and use its inbound faxing capability, you'll be disappointed to learn that Microsoft has eliminated the feature in Exchange 2010.

How to mitigate: Buy a third-party faxing system that integrates with Exchange 2010. Take a look at the Fax Partners section of this page for assistance in identifying a vendor.

4: File share and SharePoint access are history

Exchange 2007's Outlook Web access introduced what I considered a fantastic feature: The ability to access Windows file shares and SharePoint document libraries from within the Outlook Web Access client. With that feature, telecommuters or users who were on the road could access files that they may have forgotten to take with them and could potentially work more effectively. But this feature is not included in Exchange 2010. Curiously, some of the supporting PowerShell commands are still available, so there's hope that it may return in a service pack, but I do miss it.

How to mitigate: Any number of other remote access strategies, including VPN, DirectAccess, RDP, and Logmein.com. SharePoint document libraries can also be accessed over the web.

5: Related licensing requirements could bite you

If you're interested in reading something truly convoluted, pick up a copy of Microsoft's licensing guides; Microsoft licensing can be confusing even for people who have been working with it for years. During an upgrade from an older version of Exchange to a newer version, you might be surprised to learn that you'll be making a number of licensing investments, including:

  • Exchange 2010 Server license - either Standard or Enterprise
  • Exchange 2010 Client Access License (CAL) - either Standard or Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008/R2 CAL

If you're upgrading your Exchange 2007 environment to Exchange 2010, you also need to make sure that you obtain an adequate number of Windows 2008 Server CALs. Remember, each Exchange user will be accessing the Windows server on which Exchange is installed, so these licensing are a must.

How to mitigate: Read and make sure you understand Microsoft's On-Premise Licensing for Exchange Server 2010. Unfortunately, if you're intent on using Exchange 2010, you don't have much choice on the licensing. At Westminster College, we use a Microsoft Campus Agreement licensing contract to simplify the morass that is Microsoft licensing.

Keep up with Scott Lowe's posts on TechRepublic

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...

9 comments
Lazarus439
Lazarus439

I believe the Exchange CAL no longer includes the current version of Outlook. Up through Exchange 2003, the Exchange CAL included Outlook, but starting with Exchange 2007, if you want the matching version of Outlook, you have to license it separately or in a suitable version of Office. While not a new-to-2010 issue, for anyone coming from Exchange 2003 (or older!), it adds quite a bump to the cost of the upgrade.

tech
tech

Or you can go the route I chose years ago and eliminate the over priced, under reliable cludge that is called Microsoft Exchange server, for any of several better alternatives. Funny they are dumping dedup. I guess they are counting on the storage system for that now (since many storage systems now deduplicate at the block level) My current solutions include Novell Groupwise, Google Mail, Zimbra and OpenExchange. I always steer clients away from Exchange when possible. Novell Groupwise is rock solid and pretty robust, of course it's future is sort of a question mark at the moment, but that is another issue. I had a Novell Groupwise Server up for almost 4 years. The reason it was shut down? To move to a new building. (Yeah it was running on Netware) The other solutions make sense depending on the needs of the client. Exchange's reliability is too low, and cost way to high for most of my clients.

Moluc
Moluc

Thanks for the info. Had no idea some of these features are now history!

derelis
derelis

Great write up Scott, certainly common things I see that are missed during planning and deployment.

derelis
derelis

Nice write up Scott! All very good points that do get missed during planning and deployment :) -Dan

tnboren
tnboren

With changes like the data de-duplication elimination and CALs for both Exhange 2010 and CALs for server 2008, an administrator could be forgiven for thinking Microsoft wants to eliminate Exchange in the future since many companies (some very large ones) are migrating to Google services. Perhaps Microsoft is planning a similar initiative and this is how the ground is prepared.

eclypse
eclypse

We implemented 2010 SP1 and the most common complaint we had was that in OWA, the default view in every folder was set to use conversations. Since I use alpine for my email, I have noticed that the IMAP support sucks even more in 2010 and I have to go more and more to OWA when I shouldn't have to. I have been using pine since 1992 and I don't really care to change now, but it is becoming more of a pain.

nwallette
nwallette

I propose we come up with an alternate term for "UPgrade", since improvement is obviously no longer implied.

rcm0502
rcm0502

It could very well be possible that Microsoft will implement a corporate version of Office Live sometime in the future and they are laying the groundwork for that at this point

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