Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 Announced!

I originally wrote this article for CDOLive - Slipstick.com and it is republished with permission. The original article is available here. The article was written on May 19, 2011.

Earlier this week, at TechEd in Atlanta, Greg Taylor of the Exchange Product Team introduced the upcoming Service Pack 2 for Exchange Server 2010. As part of that presentation, Greg shared that we can expect it before the end of this calendar year. At just about the same time that Greg was making his presentation, a blog post by Kevin Allison (a General Manager on the Exchange Product Team) was being completed on the MS Exchange Team blog on the same topic.

These days, service packs tend to include a few new features as well as lots of bug fixes. Exchange 2010 service pack 2 is no different. Over 500 bug fixes are planned, plus four major new features. Obviously, nothing is complete until the product ships, but given that these items have been announced, it’s obvious that the team feels pretty good about the potential of these being shipped.

One of the new features is the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. This wizard assists in deploying Exchange, with so-called rich coexistence, between on-premises and Exchange Online. A rich coexistence requirement typically comes into play for larger companies. Larger organizations cannot typically complete their migration within a short period of time (such as a weekend) and cannot afford for email to be down an extended period of time. So, for the days or weeks that both environments are in use, it has to be possible for the environments to coexist. Ongoing coexistence, plus the fact that additions, changes, and subtractions may still be required during this timeframe necessitate a rich coexistence so that these changes can be communicated across the two environments. There are also companies that desire to operate this way long-term, with certain mailboxes in the cloud and others on-premises. Prior to the release of the Hybrid Configuration Wizard, preparing for rich co-existence required 46 separate detailed steps to be completed by the administrator. With the new wizard, the numbers of steps is reduced to six.

The second new feature is Cross-Site Silent Redirection. This will be also typically be used by larger organizations who have Client Access Servers in multiple Active Directory sites. Prior to this new feature, if a user connected to a CAS in an Active Directory site where their mailbox was NOT hosted, they would be forced to log in twice – once when connecting to the first CAS in the wrong site, and a second time after Exchange automatically referred them to a CAS in the proper site. With this new feature, only a single log in is now required. In other words, it now operates as one would expect.

The third new feature is Outlook Web App (OWA) Mini. Most of the sparse documentation so far is referring to this as OWA Mini. However, to those of us who have been using Exchange Server since Exchange 2003 or before are calling this “the return of OMA”.  Exchange 2003 supported Outlook Mobile Access (OMA) and OWA Mini is basically a reimplementation of OMA. There are geographic regions of the world where web-mail is still the preferred way to access mailboxes – even on smartphones. OWA Mini provides a very small very minimalistic interface to email, calendar, contacts, and tasks. And on this feature, I say “I told you so”. When Microsoft announced that OMA was being removed in Exchange 2007, I predicted then that they would have to bring it back.

The fourth new feature is long awaited: Address Book Policies (ABPs). In Exchange 2000 through Exchange 2007, Microsoft had always provided some mechanism for a feature known as GAL Segmentation. This allows for different groups of users to receive different Global Address Books. This is something that many companies, both large and small, like to do. However, until the release of Service Pack 2, Microsoft had provided no support for this in Exchange 2010. With SP2, the implementation of ABPs is much better, potentially much more granular, and much easier than it ever has been before. To this, I say “well done!”

Only a small group of partners outside of Microsoft have received Service Pack 2 so far, and its release it still quite a way in the future. But it is definitely a release that I’m looking forward to.

Until next time...

As always, if there are items you would like me to talk about, please drop me a line and let me know!

Published Wednesday, June 08, 2011 6:40 AM by michael

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