Exchange 2007: One small step for Microsoft, one giant leap backwards for Exchange administrators
Microsoft Exchange 2007 has several nice features and enhancements over its predecessors. However, if Microsoft TechNet forums and Exchange newsgroups are any indication, Exchange 2007 is a living nightmare for Exchange Administrators. Most features that should have been a breeze in the GUI in Exchange 2003, have been yanked out and replaced by cryptic commands that administrators must manually type in a DOS-like shell called Exchange Management Shell (EMS). And that is the good news. The bad news is that the help file is not very helpful. To put it bluntly, it is pathetic. There are few good, real-life examples and it lacks step-by-step instructions in the areas where it is really needed.
Although the Exchange Management Console is much easier and the developers should be commended for that, it’s the lack of basic simple tasks in the GUI that are very time consuming and causing headaches for the administrators. Exchange 2007 administration is definitely not geared towards small to medium-size companies with a few hundred to thousands of users, it is meant for large enterprises.
It seems like Exchange 2007 was developed by people with the UNIX background. They replaced the nice GUI that Microsoft is famous for with the old DOS-like command prompt. They didn’t realize that one of the the reasons why Microsoft’s products are popular all over the world is because of the ease of use and their GUI interfaces. If administrators only wanted reliability and dependability in products, they would be using open source products and would rather use Linux instead of spending money to buy Exchange 2007.
* Want to configure POP3 in Exchange 2007? Sorry, no easy way to get it to work. You have to configure it in EMS manually. Do not waste time looking for information in the Help File. Search for answers on one of the Exchange forums or newsgroups.
* Want to send mail to the Internet? Oops…..Exchange developers didn’t realize that the reason you install Exchange is to send mail to the Internet. You have to manually configure send connectors or else your Exchange server can only be used to send mail internally.
* Want to configure recipient and sender content filtering? You can do this, sort of, but you need to manually type each address in the EMS. Oh, by the way, you are limited to only 100 entries, as explained in the help file. There is no simple way to add a whitelist or exceptions list by importing from Exchange 2003. Someone at Microsoft wrote a tool to import the lists but the tool doesn’t quite work as written.
This is only scratching the surface. The newsgroups and forums are full of major issues with Exchange 2007 and administrators are not too happy because Microsoft rushed out the product before it was quite ready and admits that they left out holes in the GUI because they didn’t have time to complete by RTM. Microsoft is working on ways to address these problems and seems like they plan to come up with some solutions in Service Pack1 which is targeted for the second half of 2007.
According to Microsoft, here’s a partial list of what you will find in Exchange 2007 SP1 as posted on Microsoft Exchange Team Blog:
Standby Continuous Replication (SCR)
Such a great feature obviously needed its own name!
With Exchange 2007, we introduced Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) for replication of data between 2 servers within a cluster. With SCR, data can be replicated on a per-storage group basis to standby servers or clusters. The SCR target, whether a single mailbox server or a cluster, can be placed inside the primary datacenter or in a remote location, ready to be manually activated if the primary server or datacenter fails.
SP1 will fill in the feature holes that we just didn’t have time to complete by RTM:
* Personal distribution lists
* Monthly calendar view
* Deleted items recovery
* Public folder access
OWA 2007 SP1 spell checking will add support for:
OWA 2007 SP1 will add support for viewing Office 2007 file formats as HTML.
Exchange Management Console
SP1 will fill in the GUI holes that we just didn’t have time to complete by RTM, including:
* Public folder configuration
* POP and IMAP configuration
* SendAs permission configuration
* Delegation wizard scenarios
New web service coverage will include:
* Public folder access
* Delegate management
* Folder permission management
On Longhorn Server, we will support Exchange 2007 on native IPv6 networks.
This vital tool administrator tool has been beefed up to include import and export to a .pst.