The changing role of Exchange

Microsoft Corp. is preparing to reveal more details about what's coming in the next release of Exchange 2000 (code-named Titanium) in October at its MEC Conference in Anaheim, Calif. Though a majority of IT shops are still running Exchange 5.5 and just upgrading now to Exchange 2000, there are already questions cropping up from IT managers about how to prepare their messaging environment for the future version of SQL Server (Yukon) and the common data store. Microsoft isn't saying much about that, but Jim Bernardo, product manager of Exchange, was kind enough to chat about the changing role of Exchange.

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So do some components of Exchange go away? No. What we are telling our partners and developers is to start thinking about how to leverage Exchange in other applications. If you want to develop applications in Exchange, go ahead. But we will have other tools too. Over time, how will the role of Exchange be de-emphasized as a collaboration platform? It's not that anything about the product will change, but we are beginning to de-emphasize...

Exchange as a platform in favor of using components of Exchange in other applications. The whole idea behind XML and Web Services is that I can embed things in other products. I can put a calendar in a CRM application, for example. We have SharePoint Team Services that we are seeing people use more and more. Creating a discussion using Exchange Public Folders today is not as simple as using a Web-based service, or creating an ad hoc, team-based work space. SharePoint has rich indexing capabilities and document management capabilities. You will see us moving toward a set of best-of-breed tools that focus on particular pieces of functionality. And Exchange is best at communications. Will there be anything in Titanium to help customers facilitate a move up to Kodiak? It's too early to talk about what's in Kodiak. We don't even know what the feature set is. It's too early in the developer cycle. Customers should think of upgrading to Titanium just to leverage the capabilities in Windows .NET Server. Active Directory will be easier, scalability increases, supports more users per server -- there are a whole lot of reasons. The things we've done in Titanium were driven by our customers. Titanium is a way to deliver on a lot of requests without making them wait for Kodiak. On one level, the fact that there will be a different storage mechanism [in Kodiak] is irrelevant in the sense that you are just changing where the data lives. But from the standpoint of data storage, I don't want to underestimate what that will mean. Talk to me in a year. At this point we have many more people focused on Titanium than Kodiak internally. As we finish up Titanium, we will move those development resources to Kodiak. And we are also dependent on the work of the SQL Server team for some things we cannot do.

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