Microsoft says that promised features missing from the initial version of Exchange Server 2007 will arrive in April as part of a beta release of the first service pack update for the messaging software.
Microsoft reiterated in a blog posting that it plans to release the final versions of Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1 and Longhorn Server, the successor to Windows Server 2003, together during the second half of the year. But it remained coy on whether the two products will be totally compatible at that time.
The initial commercial version of Exchange 2007 doesn't work with beta releases of Longhorn Server. That incompatibility is stymieing would-be early adopters, who have had to resort to testing the SP1 release of
Exchange 2003 on top of the operating system, said Bharat Suneja, principal Exchange architect at email tools vendor Zenprise. Suneja also maintains the Exchangepedia blog.
According to the message posted on 22 February on the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog, the company plans to support Exchange 2007 on Longhorn Server "on native IPv6 networks." But there was no mention of whether Longhorn Server's revamped handling of domain controllers and Active Directory will be compatible with Exchange 2007 SP1.
Asked about that issue, a Microsoft spokeswoman said that the Exchange 2007 SP1 plans "are evolving" and that the company will make an announcement on the features being included in the update at a later time.
Despite that public no-comment, Suneja said Microsoft representatives have personally assured him that the final release of SP1 will run on Longhorn Server and support the operating system's domain controllers. "I think it is a given at this point," he said.
Features that were announced for SP1 as part of last week's blog posting include an upgraded Move Mailbox tool that lets administrators import and export information to personal folders files – formally known as .pst files, for personal storage table.
The service pack will also provide new enforcement policies for mobile devices plus added features for Outlook Web Access and the Exchange management console "that we just didn't have time to complete" before Exchange 2007 was released to manufacturing, said the blog posting, which was signed by Terry Myerson, Microsoft's general manager for Exchange Server.
The latter features are available in Exchange 2003 SP1 but not in the first version of Exchange 2007, Suneja said. Perhaps the most exciting addition coming in the planned update, he added, is a totally new feature called Standby Continuous Replication. SCR allows data to be backed up to nonclustered Exchange servers in remote datacentres, bolstering a clustered replication capability that was introduced with Office 2007 and that enables data to be replicated between two servers in the same datacentre.
IT managers can use SCR to create standby replicas of Exchange data that can activate if the systems at the main datacentre become unavailable. Unlike the clustered replication tool, SCR doesn't offer true automatic fail-over, Suneja said, meaning that IT staffers would need to run a third-party tool or manually "repoint users from one Exchange server to another." But that process should only take several minutes, he added.
Companies desiring true automatic fail-over to a remote server via the clustered replication software must tweak their networks so each Exchange 2007 server is on the same subnet or virtual LAN, according to Suneja. "It's a little involved, but it's doable," he said.