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Exchange Server 2010 bows with improved recovery

With high availability using Database Availability Group and automated failover functions, Exchange Server 2010 offers IT shops some new, practical features.

IT shops still on Exchange Server 2003 have a few good reasons to skip right to Exchange Server 2010: It touts greater functionality and performance than Exchange 2007, and it supports low-cost storage and high availability.

Microsoft released Exchange Server 2010 during Tech-Ed Europe 2009 in Berlin this week. The company claimed that improvements to its messaging server could cut IT costs by 70% and improve end-user productivity by over 70 minutes per week.

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Those numbers are probably for the best case and should not be taken at face value, since actual cost savings depend on the type of deployment, but there are a number of new features in Exchange Server 2010 that will woo IT pros into a migration.

Jared Sahleen, senior technology manager at Lifetime Products, recently upgraded from Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2008. The Clearfield, Utah-based manufacturer is often an early adopter, so early migration to Exchange Server 2010 was always part of Lifetime's plan. This particular upgrade was driven largely because of promised benefits for mobile workers.

"We have a large mobile workforce -- 300 to 400 Windows Mobile users and over 60 iPhone users -- and we are on Exchange UM [Unified Messaging], so some of the things in 2010, like voicemail preview, [were] a huge motivator for us," Sahleen said.

The voicemail-to-text function lets end users read their voicemails as email instead of listening to the audio files, and it lets users send and receive phone SMS text messages through email.

"The DAG [Database Availability Group] pieces of Exchange 2010 were also big drivers for us, because we are trying to add redundancy for our remote sites," Sahleen said.

The high-availability function based on DAG lets IT configure up to 16 Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 mailbox servers to provide automatic database-level recovery from a database, server or network failure.

Clustering is also automated in Exchange Server 2010. "Clustering in the past was hard, and once you created groups, you were stuck with them, but DAG makes it much easier," said Julia White, Microsoft's director of Exchange Server products.

Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, noted that the biggest feature for IT is the automated failover functions surrounding DAG. "It will go a long way in simplifying fault tolerance and automating failover and speeding up to recovery when mailboxes fail," he said. "It used to take two minutes to recover a mailbox database, and now that time is now down to 30 seconds."

Exchange 2010 also includes integrated email archiving, retention and discovery functions. Old emails can be stored on the same server as new emails, so IT pros have one centralized place to manage mail archives, which cuts discovery time dramatically, White said.

And IT shops that haven't touched their Exchange Server deployments in years are in luck, because the latest version supports lower cost storage such as JBOD or direct-attached storage (DAS). "Those who are upgrading [from Exchange Server 2003] can get many terabytes of storage at very little cost now," Sanfilippo said.

For Exchange Server 2003 shops, the cost of upgrading to Exchange Server 2010 will be about the same as it would be for an Exchange 2007 upgrade, but 2010 offers new low-cost storage options and high availability benefits, so upgrades from Exchange 2003 will be most common over the next year, Sanfilippo said.

Meanwhile, IT shops that recently invested in an Exchange Server 2007 upgrade will have a hard time justifying another upgrade, especially since Microsoft decided to support Exchange Server 2007 on Windows Server 2008 R2, he said.

Pricing and availability
Exchange Server 2010 Standard Edition pricing is $699, and that license covers up to five mailbox databases. Exchange Server 2010 Enterprise Edition is $3,999, and that license supports up to 100 email databases -- up from the 50 database maximum for the same edition of Exchange Server 2007. Those prices do not include the cost of Client Access Licenses and External Connector Licenses.

Since Exchange Server 2010 is also built to be delivered as a service, companies such as New York-based Intermedia will offer hosted Exchange services. Microsoft also offers Exchange Online, which costs $5 per user per month on its own. That offering will be based on Exchange Server 2007 until Microsoft completes its own upgrade, which is expected early next year. When it is available, the only difference will be the lack of the voicemail-to-text feature, which will come later, White said.


Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

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