Thursday, August 2, 2007

Excited about Exchange 2007 SP1?

I know I am, and you should be too. Why? Because it really adds to the feature set and functionality of the RTM version. Like what? Well, the OWA improvements are going to be fantastic. And then there is the new cluster model for Standby Cluster Replication, or SCR, which will be a great feature for disaster recovery scenarios.

For more info on some of the features, check this writeup at the Exchange Team blog:
Talking Exchange 2007 SP1....

But one feature that I think is really going to help on the install of Exchange 2007 are the changes in the AD requirements for the setup and domain prep processes. Basically, the setup process would fail if it couldn't reach a domain in the forest, or if it ended up trying to talk to any Win2k DC/GC in a domain even when there was an available Win2K3 SP1 DC/GC available. This was even in domains where you weren't even trying to prepare them!?! With E2007 SP1, however, it will simply ignore these "problems." These scenarios and the SP1 improvements are described in detail here: A Setup Prerequisite Change in Exchange 2007 SP1

Boy do I wish the RTM version had worked like that!!! This was something that caused some major headaches in trying to get E2007 installed in my AD environment. Now, as it just so happened, we were already in the works on doing an AD infrastructure upgrade anyway. We were able to expedite that process and were finally able to get our AD prepped and Exchange installed. Of course in the middle of all that, when we did the schema updates it broke replication between the remaining Win2k servers and the 2003. It's a known issue and is addressed with a hofix as described here: I throw this out there so you can be aware of this as a potential side effect you could encounter.... For us the install worked out OK in the end. But there are going to be many environments where for either technical or monetary reasons the AD environment cannot be adjusted so quickly.

This really begs the question then as to whether someone considering Exchange 2007, either as a new install or a migration from 2003, should do it now or wait for at least SP1???? I can't answer that, it's totally dependent on your environment and circumstances. All I can say on the matter is that even though my install of Exchange 2007 brought many challenges, I am very glad we moved forward on it as early as we did. I'd do it all over again if given the chance! But that doesn't make me any less excited about SP1....

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