CGNET's Take on Exchange 2007

CGNET’s Eric Romero (left) and Ricardo Uribe
(Originally published February 8, 2007)
Now that Microsoft Exchange 2007 is generally available, we asked a couple of CGNET’s resident Exchange experts what our clients needed to know, in general, about the possible upgrade. The “nutshell” answer was that nobody needs to upgrade for upgrading’s sake, but that there are several situations where considering Exchange 2007 will make a difference.

64-bit Architecture
“If an organization is planning to centralize its email servers, it’s the option to select,” said Eric Romero, an engineer on our Messaging and Development Services team. “The new 64-bit system is so powerful that it can be a better server.” The 64-bit architecture allows for much more memory, which can mean support for more mailboxes and more memory per mailbox, for example.

CGNET Manager of Network Operations and Engineering Ricardo Uribe added that any hardware upgrades to email servers now ought to use 64-bit processors. Microsoft’s 32-bit version of Exchange 2007 is really for demonstration purposes only, not for use in production.

Unified Messaging
Microsoft has added unified messaging to Exchange 2007, which means that users can, among other things, hear messages and work the Outlook calendar over the phone and also see voice mail in their email. This clearly can be convenient. Some caution is necessary, however. “This is early technology for Microsoft, compared to Cisco and other vendors” Romero said. “Microsoft will be very strict about which systems work with it. It will probably support only a few PBXs, for at least a while.”

Autodiscover
“Autodiscover may be a help, particularly for large organizations,” Romero said. “What this means is that Outlook will self-configure against the Exchange box, using Active Directory. Outlook 2007 will automatically know about the Exchange 2007 server and configure the account automatically. This can reduce the need for a lot of help-desk support.”

Compatibility
Romero added that Exchange 2007 is compatible with Exchange 2000 and 2003, so a new Exchange server can coexist on a network with the earlier versions. “This is not true for Exchange 5.5, however,” he said.

The Bottom Line
If you’re replacing hardware or setting up a new office, the move to Exchange 2007 makes sense. But if you’re not doing that, or consolidating or installing unified messaging, it really doesn’t hurt to wait. “I don’t want to utter the cliché about waiting for the first service pack,” Romero said. “Some clients may want to move now, and we’re ready to help, but for many, it may not be necessary yet.”

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