Microsoft's marriage of easy communications
The combination of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 brings voicemail to the in-box, and speed and flexibility to how Windows workers communicate
This kind of cross-app communication is OCS’ real reason to live. Communicator is the main client interface, but Microsoft’s design goal for OCS was to enable one-click communication from as many places within the Office client/server suite as possible. For the most part, Microsoft has succeeded. The price tag is a little high for our taste (especially when you consider all the secondary servers a full OCS implementation will require in an enterprise setting), but for companies that will truly make use of this level of communication flexibility, the greenbacks are well worth it. If you’re already running chunks of the Office server suite, then don’t buy a SIP PBX or a conferencing platform without trying your hand at OCS first.
Exchange Server 2007
Since our test of the Exchange 2007 beta last August, we’ve encountered the new e-mail platform in the course of several other tests, sometimes with mixed results. During this period, Exchange went from beta 2 all the way to shipping code and now has a service pack pecking its way to final release.
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Exchange 2007's new hardware requirements aren't limited to the 64-bit-only support. Industry feathers were ruffled when Microsoft announced that Exchange was going 64-bit only (and that it wasn’t going to be the only server in Redmond’s family to go that route), but after a year of reflection, we think the 64-bit move was a solid choice on Microsoft’s part. First, most servers sold during the past two years are already 64-bit capable and that trend is only going to increase. Second, moving to a 64-bit CPU means that more RAM can be used to cache the message database and that means faster performance and less strain on the server’s disk system. It’s the future, deal with it.
What will be a hardware consideration as well as your most important initial planning criteria is Exchange 2007’s updated server roles. Microsoft has expanded the number of Exchange server roles available to five, and that will most likely expand the number of physical Exchange servers you’ll be running. Your meat is the Mailbox server role, but a close second in importance is the CAS (Client Access Server), which manages all the proxied client connections, including Outlook Web Access, something you most certainly want (see below).