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Exchange Server 2010 SP1 signals upgrade go-ahead

With Exchange Server 2010 SP1, IT shops get increased support for database availability groups, better Outlook Web App support and more.

For many IT shops, the release of a first service pack is the traditional green light for adopting a major release of a new server. That will likely be true for Microsoft's Exchange Server 2010 SP1, which was introduced earlier this week.

But administrators who have already installed Exchange 2010 may want to weigh the relevance of the new features before adding the service pack. Microsoft released SP1 in beta in June; the completed version contains a number of miscellaneous features and improvements that make it more of a feature pack than a service pack.

There has been a call to action for Microsoft to support address list segregation, which was supported through a guidance whitepaper for Exchange 2007, but not yet for Exchange 2010


Rob Sanfilippo
AnalystDirections on Microsoft

"Although Service Pack 1 serves as a roll-up of hot fixes to date, administrators are never excited about disturbing stable deployments," said Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a consulting firm based in Kirkland, Wash.

Mike Crowley, an Exchange administrator who builds Exchange environments at Microsoft integrator Planet Technologies Inc., said the SP1 release is stable, so he won't hesitate to do new deployments on SP1 or upgrade Exchange 2010 users right away.

Administrators are enthusiastic for a couple of features in this service pack, including the increased support for two server Database Availability Groups and Outlook Web App (OWA) support for many default and custom themes.

The most notable addition to Exchange 2010 with SP1 is the ability to put a user's primary mailbox and personal archive mailbox on separate mailbox databases, Sanfilippo said.

"[That capability] makes the personal archive feature more attractive," he said. "It will let administrators put archives on dedicated disks or servers that have separate storage, maintenance routines and fault tolerance configurations."

Since only OWA 2010 and Outlook 2010 users can access personal archives, shops still on Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 may see this feature as reason enough to upgrade to Exchange 2010, Sanfilippo added.

The service pack also supports multi-tenant hosting, which enables Exchange Server 2010 SP1 to co-exist with Exchange Online. And Microsoft improved troublesome tools such as ISINTEG, the command-line utility that tests and repairs Exchange information stores, and enhanced the import/export mailbox, Crowley said.

What's missing in Exchange Server 2010 SP1?

The service pack does not include a resolution to list segregation, a method of global address list deployment that allows different sets of users to view different subsets of the GAL.

"There has been a call to action for Microsoft to support address list segregation, which was supported through a guidance whitepaper for Exchange 2007, but not yet for Exchange 2010," Sanfilippo said. "Some organizations may have thought SP1 would deliver this support."

Users also want an update to Outlook 2007 that lets users access the Exchange Server 2010 Personal Archive, which will come in a set of updates due out in the first half of 2011.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter

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