Microsoft paid a visit last week; not the entire company,
mind you, but a couple of disciples to spread the good faith. They worked in a pre-sales capacity and one
had the ominous title of Messaging Specialist.
Messenger, disciple whats the difference, right? Anyway, youve probably guessed they were
here to tout the coming of Exchange 2007, explain the added benefits, and get a
pulse for our readiness to upgrade.
Given the fact we are just completing the final stages of an upgrade
from Exchange 5.5 to 2003, I explained that this discussion was a bit
premature. Then they offered us some
water to drink, which we accepted, but discovered it tasted strangely similar
Exchange 2007 should arrive sometime in the first quarter of
07, not by the end of this year like you may have heard but didnt quite believe
anyway. Id like to know when Service Pack
1 will be available because that is more likely the first time we will begin to
consider another upgrade of our messaging system. Let someone else discover the problems usually
found in the release of a new software version.
The meeting was brief and not filled with much meat as it
was largely meant to answer questions about Exchange 2007 and build excitement
about its impending release. The latest
version will continue Microsofts trend of attempting to be your one source
solution provider. And while I cant
dive into much technical detail in a short blog entry, I can opine my thoughts
on some of the new features being hyped.
Much is being made about the UM integration in the next Exchange
system. I have to admit that I like what
Ive read and heard to this point about integrating voice and fax access with
my email (pause as I sip my drink).
Sure, aspects of UM have been available before now thanks to third party
vendors who filled in functionality gaps left by previous Microsoft releases. Companies like GFI
or Castelle offer unified fax solutions,
and there are many companies like Adomo
that offer unified voice mail solutions.
But now (through various company acquisitions, of course) Microsoft can
offer the total solution. Their vision
is to have total voice and data collaboration.
Couple Exchange with Microsoft Live Communications Server and you also
can include VoIP to make your unified messaging experience complete (sip).
has rightfully taken a public beating in recent years about the security holes
and deficiencies in their OS releases and other core products. This is a good thing. They are making huge strides to improve
security, and Exchange 2007 is another step in the right direction. If you take a look at the latest published feature
list, the first and largest section displayed is the one listing numerous
built-in security enhancements. A
significant number include ant-spam and antivirus capabilities. And there is now a new Exchange component
called the Edge Transport server which sets in your companys DMZ and acts as
the first line of defense for outside facing mail flow. By default, all intra-organizational mail
flow is encrypted. Regulatory compliance
is even addressed through support for Information Rights Management and message
transport and storage rules-based encryption and retention (sip).
is well known for wizardizing every common IT task that can be
automated. Maybe it dumbs down the
average IT pro, but I tend to appreciate a good wizard tool to make my job
easier and faster. Have you ever
suffered through a horribly long and complicated math homework problem only to
be told by your teacher the next day that there was a two-step shortcut? Sure you have. Microsoft sympathizes with your plight (sip)
and has made managing Exchange (almost) entirely possible via the new Exchange
Management Console which happens to be based on the new MMC 3.0. And for those that need to manage from the
command line, there is the Exchange Management Shell. Everything that can be done from the
Management Console, and more, can now be done within a script.
There are many more new features and enhancements (sip)
bundled with the next Exchange release, and I dont have room to cover them
all. For instance, it is a native 64-bit
application which will increase memory and processor efficiencies and improve
disk I/O. It also offers improved data
replication and search capabilities (sip).
But I digress. From what Ive
seen so far, Exchange 2007 has much to offer.
Whether it has enough to warrant another upgrade in the near future may
be a different story. My cup is now
empty. Im done.