Can you find the enhancements in Exchange 2010?

Once the install of Exchange 2010 is done, the real work begins on locating all the new options; I'll help you find them quicker

Last week, Microsoft released the first Beta of Exchange 2010 and in the InfoWorld Test Center's first look at Exchange 2010, Martin Heller wrote that it marked a "major step up from Exchange Server 2007." This week, let's dig a bit deeper into this beta release and see what true enhancements are coming our way with Exchange 2010.

You install the Exchange 2010 beta and have jumped through all the hoops of installing PowerShell 2 and .Net Framework 3.5, as well as Windows Remote Management 2.0 (all part of the prerequisites to installing the beta) on a server running Windows Server 2008. You open the Exchange Management Console and ... and ... it looks pretty much the same.

EMC2010Beta.jpg

What do you do next? Where are the exciting changes you were hoping for?

It's true that people often associate a change in the interface with a change in the architecture, but there's no reason for the UI to change simply because the architecture has. It is not wise for Microsoft to constantly move things on us. Even legitimate UI changes -- to my mind, these include the ribbons in Office 2007 and, in Exchange 2007, the shift from the System Manager to the Exchange Management Console (EMC) UI -- frustrate users, so they should not be done casually. Another huge move with Exchange 2007 was the Exchange Management Shell (EMD), which was built on PowerShell, for administration. Those two UI changes in Exchange 2007 were enough to keep us reeling for a while, so Microsoft has not introduced any crazy changes for  EMC and EMS in Exchange 2010.

But there are plenty of new features in Exchange 2010. You just need to know where to look.

Here are the important changes you should know about:

  • For starters, note the new orange color to the Exchange logo icon. It's not a technical facet of the new version but good to note, nonetheless.
  • In Exchange 2007, clicking Microsoft Exchange at the top gave you Finalize Deployment and End-to-End Scenario tabs. In the Exchange 2010 beta, you get nothing when you click Microsoft Exchange; instead, you have to click Microsoft Exchange On-Premises to see the Finalize Deployment, Post-Installation Tasks, and Community and Feedback tabs. Also note a little option in the Actions pane called Gather Organizational Information; it kicks off a wizard that collects your organization's data for the number of servers, mailboxes, server roles, and licensing summary.
  • Clicking the Organization Configuration top branch in Exchange 2007 shows you Exchange administrators and their roles. The Exchange 2010 beta displays three tabs: Federation Trusts, Sharing Relationships, and Sharing Policies. They may seem a bit cryptic if you don't understand the new concept of federation, which amounts to trust of other domains. Clicking the New Federation Trust wizard tells Echange 2010 to create a federation trust with Windows Live to prepare for secure sharing of information with external Exchange organizations. This requires a certificate for federation being deployed on all Exchange servers with client access and hub server role.
  • Clicking Mailbox under Organization Configuration offers some new tabs in the Exchange 2010 beta, such as Database Management (which formerly resided under Server Configuration | Mailbox) and Database Availability Group. The Database Availability Group options are exciting to work with because they relate to your High Availability and Disaster Recovery options. Creating a New Database Availability Group launches a wizard that defines a set of servers that provide automatic database-level recovery from database failure. Note that Storage Groups are gone in favor of these new Database Availability Groups (DAGs). Also note some major changes to the High Availability options: specificall, LCR, and SCC are no longer available.
  • Clicking Client Access under the Organization Configuration branch shows that ActiveSync policies are still around, and it offers a new set of policies called Outlook Live Mailbox Policies.
  • For the most part, the Hub Transport settings look the same. But there are some new transport-policy settings worth looking into. One is If the Sender and Recipient's AD Attribute Are Evaluation. I had a hard time figuring that one out until I actually created the rule and discovered that it lets you change the AD Attribute and the Evaluation. Give it a try, and you will understand.
  • The Unified Messaging tabs under Organization are the same. However, after creating a dial plan and going into the properties, I noticed some interesting changes: a check box on the General tab for Allow Voice Mail Preview and another one for Allow Users to Configure Personal Auto Attendants. One of the biggest interface changes I noticed when clicking through was in the UM policy settings on the General tab; new check boxes include Allow Message Waiting Indicator and Allow Play on Phone. There is also a Protected Voice Mail tab to help enforce options that may involve legal requirements for a company (for example, some companies are required to play a message on phone and not through a computer's speakers for confidentiality's sake).
  • Moving on to Server Configuration. If you select this branch, you now see Exchange Certificates, which Exchange 2007 did not have. You can create a new certificate, assign services to certificates, or import/export certificates.
  • Under Mailbox for Server Configuration, you see Database Copies (not Database Management).
  • Client Access under Server Configuration holds the same four tabs as in Exchange 2007 for OWA, POP, and IMAP4, Exchange ActiveSync, and Offline Address Book Distribution.
  • Under the Recipient Configuration branch is a new option called Mailbox Migration. In clicking through the properties of a mailbox user, I noticed a few interesting changes. There is a Calendar Settings tab where you can enable the Calendar Attendant and make some quick modificaitons such as Remove Meeting Forward Notifications to the Deleted Items Folder and Remove Old Meeting Requests and Responses without having to create entire policies for them. I didn't see too much else that was different other than a Federated Sharing option for a sharing policy on the Mailbox Settings tab.
  • Last but not least, the Toolbox: On the surface, the two versions' interfaces match up perfectly. There are no new tools, it seems. No doubt the Exchange Best Practices Analyzer is newer. I couldn't find, however, some of my options for managing databases and working with Recovery Storage Groups.

I'm pretty excited about the changes I've seen. Granted, it is just a beta, so it's too early to make definitive judgments. The Exchange developers are still tweaking and adding to Exchange 2010, so we can expect to see a bit more in the next release.

Now, I'm sure I didn't find everything. If you noticed other screen changes, items moved around, and/or new features to Exchange 2010 beta, please let me know.

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