David Szpunar: Owner, Servant 42 and Servant Voice

David's Church Information Technology

November 11th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Exchange 2010: Yeah, we’ve got that!

Microsoft Exchange 2010 became Generally Available on Monday, November 9th. That was two days ago. A few things coincided that made moving to Exchange 2010 a good decision (I think), even though we just finished moving to Exchange 2007 from 2003 about a month ago, including some snapshot/backup issues with my Exchange 2007 server that made me want to build a new box and start fresh. And what better than to migrate to 2010 while I’m was at it? The management interface is similar, there are some cool new features, and it’s been used by Microsoft for their Live@EDU system as well as other testers for a while, so I don’t forsee any major stability problems even immediately after release.

Also, it’s much easier for an Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2007 box to cohabitate on a network and still allow ActiveSync and OWA access than doing the same with Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2003 (which requires a separate Exchange 2007 CAS, or Client Access Server). Granted, making it work with the ISA firewall was a little tricky, but with a little experimentation it went well and is working fully. So well in fact, that only my Mac user and my Blackberry user are on the old 2007 box now until I stuff is compatible (in the Blackberry case) and I can babysit the migration (in the Mac user’s case, with Entourage–Snow Leopard isn’t an option on our PowerPC hardware). Those will come soon enough. But frankly with Google for the help docs and processes (there’s a lot of good information directly from Microsoft out there already!), the process only required two remote nights working until 3:30am, and some time during one day to work out the ISA stuff to keep ActiveSync and OWA working.

I’m not going to elaborate on the entire installation process here. Microsoft documents it well, it requires installing Exchange 2010 on a new server (no in-place upgrades) to do the transition (that’s how I prefer it anyway, and with virtualization that’s easy!). But it was mostly smooth, similar to 2007 in many ways (different enough to require some reading but familiar enough it was much easier to pick up than 2007 was from 2003). And, as I discovered this morning, for Outlook 2003 clients to connect, you should also run this in the Exchange PowerShell console:

Set-RpcClientAccess -Server [servername] -EncryptionRequired $false

Otherwise, Outlook 2003 will stare at you (or, rather, the user) blankly and not connect (at least if you have internal encryption to Exchange disabled, which I do–I didn’t test enabling it).

Do I recommend going with 2010 now? Yes, as long as stuff you use like Blackberry and Mac supports it or you’re prepared to learn how to make it work. Also, your “now” may not be the day of General Availability depending on the size of your environment and current needs and plans :-)

Any thoughts? Do you think I should have gone with Exchange 2010 the week it was released? I think it’s a reasonably well proven product even though I didn’t participate in the testing myself like I did with Windows 7. Are you migrating soon? (Microsoft likes to call moving from one version to another of the same software a “transition.” I like the term “migration” better, but whatever. They reserve that for when you “migrate” from one of their competitors. I don’t care :-)

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    Another big issue is backup support if you want to continue doing traditional backups of your data. We’re anxiously awaiting a new CommVault agent so we can start moving towards 2010!

    Justin Moore on November 11th, 2009
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    Good point Justin! Veeam works great but doesn’t provide mailbox- or item-level restore, but we weren’t doing that anyway. I’m contemplating setting up a script with PowerShell to export mailboxes to PST on a regular basis for that reason for us. For now, deleted item retention (which is better and more thorough in Exchange 2010 already) should provide most of what we need, and then the backups are disaster-recovery only. I haven’t tried Windows Image Backups in Exchange 2010 yet, but I know they were working in Exchange 2007 as of Service Pack 2 (before that, Exchange 2007 on Server 2008 had no built-in backup options that were VSS aware, although on Server 2003 NTBackup still worked).

    With Veeam Backup 4’s new support for the Changed Block Tracking in vSphere, my daily Exchange backups are taking less than a half-hour (sometimes even 15 minutes) and are pulling from the SAN directly. I’m contemplating increasing the frequency to occur even more often.

    David Szpunar on November 15th, 2009