Microsoft Exchange 2007 pushes the envelope
Multiple precooked configs, a vastly improved Web client, a power command line, and bundled anti-malware add up to a whale of an upgradeFollow @infoworld
Managing e-mail servers is among IT’s most painful tasks. It’s no wonder, then, that Microsoft chose Exchange as the server product that would capitalize on the benefits of Longhorn first.
We managed to get an early look at Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2, eagerly anticipating some pain relief. We’re pleased to report that this is a compelling upgrade. Not only has administration improved, but Exchange 2007 turns out to be a felicitous example of Microsoft’s time-honored strategy: Add features that used to require separate applications in order to grab more market share (see "Top 10 new features in Exchange 2007").
Exchange 2007 integrates two new Microsoft anti-virus and anti-spam options and adds a powerful new command shell. Most impressive of all, Microsoft has reworked the install process to enable administrators to set up Exchange in several common, preset configurations, potentially simplifying setup. In addition, new support for handheld devices could pose a serious challenge to the BlackBerry’s dominance in mobile e-mail.
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Revving up for Exchange
Beta 2 doesn’t have quite the install process the production version will use, but it’s close. Hardware requirements are an important difference. You can run the beta on 32-bit CPUs, but for the production version, Microsoft says Exchange 2007 will do 64-bit silicon only. This will support much larger mail stores and faster e-mail processing, but the downside — especially for small businesses — will be the need to purchase new servers.
Moreover, because Exchange is on track to be released later this year, it may arrive well ahead of Longhorn. If so, early adopters of Exchange 2007 will need Windows Server 2003 x64 until the Longhorn OS shows up.
But getting Exchange 2007 up and running has more new wrinkles. In the installation process, Exchange 2007 introduces the concept of “roles,” a departure from the mail server’s previous one-size-fits-all model. Some server roles can coexist on the same machine, whereas others must be elsewhere, such as the DMZ.
The default roles for a typical Exchange 2007 installation are Mailbox, Client Access, and Bridgehead. These provide, respectively, mailbox storage, client connectivity (including Outlook Web Access), and internal transport. Other roles include Unified Messaging, Edge Transport, and Clustered.