With all of the pixels being dedicated to news and information regarding the imminent release of Exchange Server 2010, information regarding Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) has played second fiddle. No longer! I’m here to tell you about some of the more exciting features that Exchange 2007 SP2 brings to the table.

For many longtime Exchange administrators, the return of native backup capabilities for Exchange servers deployed on Windows Server 2008 servers is exciting news. Under Exchange 2003 systems, administrators could make ad-hoc backups using Windows’ built-in backup utility. Much to many peoples’ dismay, this capability did not make its way into Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008. With the installation of SP2, Exchange administrators running on Windows Server 2008 receive a VSS plug-in that enables Windows Server Backup to address this negative situation.

In order to deploy Exchange Server 2010 into an existing Exchange 2007 organization, the Exchange servers in the Exchange 2007 organization must be updated to Exchange 2007 SP2. This is mostly due to the fact that, with Exchange 2010, Microsoft is making major changes to the way Outlook clients communicate with Exchange mailboxes. Under Exchange 2007, Outlook clients communicate directly with mailbox servers, bypassing the Client Access server role used by other communications methods, such as Outlook Web Access and IMAP. Under Exchange 2010, Outlook 2010 clients will also communicate with Client Access servers rather than directly with mailbox servers.

In an increasingly regulated business environment, one can never have too much in the way of auditing capabilities. This is another area in which Exchange 2007 SP2 doesn’t disappoint. SP2 adds significant access auditing capabilities that can track such events as folder and message access events, making it possible to determine who has opened a particular folder or message. Access auditing can be configured on different levels of verbosity so you can track only what you need. If you suspect that someone is gaining unauthorized access to someone else’s mailbox, this new feature can be a very powerful sleuthing tool.

Although public folders are, in my opinion, becoming more and more of a nuisance, they are supported in Exchange 2007 SP2. Under Exchange 2007 SP2, Microsoft has replaced the legacy public folder management paradigm with new cmdlets and parameters that enhance public folder administration.

Exchange 2007 SP2 is a cumulative upgrade, meaning that you can use the SP2 media to upgrade from any version of Exchange 2007 — RTM or SP1. The SP2 installation does make Active Directory schema changes, so make sure that you have appropriate rights before you kick off the upgrade. In fact, the SP2 installer extends the Active Directory schema with Exchange 2010 RTM extensions.

Further, Exchange 2007 SP2 requires that Windows Installer 4.5 be installed. If you’re installing Windows Server 2008 SP2, you’re all set. If, however, you’re running Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 SP1, make sure you upgrade Windows Installer.

Microsoft recommends that you update to Exchange 2007 SP2 in the following order:

  • Client Access servers
  • Unified Messaging servers
  • Hub Transport servers
  • Edge Transport servers
  • Mailbox servers 

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