Jammin' with Exchange 2007

By Karin Cornils

(Originally published June 1, 2007)
Despite the inevitable hype dished out at any Microsoft event, the amount of practical information at Microsoft’s recent Exchange 2007 Roadshow in San Francisco was actually worth the trip. For those of you, like me, responsible for implementing and maintaining Exchange 2007 (a.k.a. Ex2k7), here are the nut and bolts found among the junk.

Wait for SP1?
Exchange 2007, released to market December 2007, seems to be quite happily deployed at many rapid deployment sites. Nevertheless, some of you planning an upgrade may want to wait for Service Pack 1 because it will fill in some current feature gaps, such as public folder access and deleted item recovery in OWA and Exchange Management public folder configuration, not to mention the new features the Service Pack will provide. Note also that current Exchange 2007 deployments do require an Active Directory schema change prerequisite.

New Features
Everybody who gets email from Microsoft knows that they are touting Ex2k7’s high availability, 64-bit architecture and support for Unified Messaging. But some of the less publicized features are worth mentioning, too:

Exchange 2007 uses PowerShell, a powerful scripting engine which allows access to the configuration settings and internal status info. The Ex2k7 administrative console runs on top of PowerShell, so any task that can be done in the console can be accomplished at the command line or by running a script.

Mobile access uses direct-push synchronization support which downloads new items immediately rather than at scheduled intervals, providing a viable alternative to BlackBerry. Also, Windows Mobile 6.0 allows searches on entire Ex2k7 mailboxes rather than just on items cached on devices.

Packaging, Licensing, and Pricing
In case you’ve had trouble figuring out the configurations, here’s a quick summary, including one gotcha.

Server licensing comes in Standard and Enterprise editions. The Standard Edition has a maximum of five storage groups and 5 databases per mailbox server. The Enterprise Edition has a maximum of 50 storage groups and 50 databases per mailbox server.

EE also allows for failover clustering, including allowing Cluster Continuous Replication to cluster nodes in separate geographical locations.

Client access licensing also comes with Standard and Enterprise CALs, but you may have to buy both. The Standard CAL grants rights to either edition of Exchange’s main server features, such as email, calendars, public folders, and OWA. If you want access to unified messaging, premium journaling, managed folders and forefront security, however, you will have to get Enterprise CALs in addition to buying Standard CALs.

Upgrade Path Issues
Because of the change to the 64-bit version, in-place server upgrades are not possible. Also implementing unified messaging may involve complex integration with your PBX system. Proceed with caution.

Deployment Notes
The Exchange 2007 server deployment involves implementing as many as five different server roles, including Client Access Server (CAS), Hub Transport Server, Mailbox Server, Unified Messaging Server (UM) and Edge server. The first three are required. The last two are optional.

All of these roles except Edge server can be put together on a single server. The Edge server has to be on a separate server, but it is not required. If you have an anti-virus/anti-spam front-end solution already, you can use that in place of Edge server.

The upgrade process first involves the aforementioned AD prep schema changes, followed by deploying the server roles in this order : CAS, Hub Transport, Mailbox, then the options, Edge and UM, if desired.
The best approach is to put ISA in the perimeter and use that to pass traffic to the CAS server. The only ports that need to be open between ISA and CAS are ports 80 and 443 (for encryption).

You can replace OWA and RPC/HTTP servers right away with CAS. It will automatically detect EX2k and Ex2k3 servers and present them with the current version of OWA rather than OWA2k7.

Miscellaneous Notes (In no particular order)
Microsoft said that the 64-bit upgrade could reduce the I/O demand by as much as 70%.

Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) provides high availability. If you have the Enterprise edition with SP1 you get Standby Continuous Replication (SCR) which allows replication of databases from an active node to standby servers or clusters in a local or remote location.

Databases are now portable. They are no longer tied to a specific server the way they were with Exchange 2003. The databases are still ESE, but the STMs are gone and the transaction logs are 1 MB rather than 5 MB.

Recipient Update Service (RUS) has disappeared in Ex2k7. In the transition to Ex2k7, however, you need to repoint RUS to Ex2k7 in order to successfully decommission Ex2k3. The disappearance of RUS with 2007 is very nice – new mailboxes immediately get addresses and are seen in the GAL (except in cached mode clients).

You still need Public folders until you decommission Ex2k3 – after which they are optional.

Administrative Groups have also disappeared in Exchange 2007 – with the exception of those needed for compatibility with Ex2k and Ex2k3.

All Exchange management is now handled via the Exchange Management Console.

Exchange 2007 does not use IIS SMTP. Microsoft rewrote SMTP.

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