Managing Exchange Server 2007, Part I

Here are some of my initial impressions about the brand new Exchange Server 2007. Context: I manage several small but very sophisticated Windows-based networks. These networks are used for training classes for software engineers working at Microsoft’s Redmond, WA campus (see for example). The networks are also used to evaluate beta versions of Microsoft software and to create white papers and articles for Microsoft (see for example). My networks are all currently running Exchange Server 2003 so I wanted to explore the upgrade path to Exchange Server 2007. The two most significant facts I’ve discovered are: 1.) Exchange Server 2007 requires a 64-bit machine, and 2.) managing Exchange Server 2007 requires using Windows PowerShell. Let me briefly talk about these two issues and their potential impact on you. First, Exchange Server 2007 requires a 64-bit machine. This fact has been well-publicized by Microsoft but still comes as a bit of a shock. If you are running a small network like I am, you are probably using non-leading edge hardware. In my case I have lots of old (circa 2002) Dell desktops which are working just fine as domain controllers, SharePoint servers, SQL servers and so on, including Exchange (2003) servers. So to upgrade to Exchange Server 2007 I am immediately faced with trying to find new hardware — and this means buying outright instead of piecing together a server from old client machines. I suspect that the 64-bit machine requirement will tend to slow the adoption of Exchange Server 2007 among small and mid-sized companies. This in turn will slow the demand for Exchange Server 2007 skills. This isn’t to say that there won’t be demand, but rather the demand for Exchange Server 2007 may not explode like it did for Exchange 2003, Exchange 2000, and Exchange 5.5 (1997-98). The story will possibly be quite different for large companies where the 64-bit machine requirement will not have as much impact. For example, as I write this blog, Volt is delivering a class on Exchange Server 2007 to a full house with a long class wait list — Microsoft already has a steady demand for engineers with Exchange Server 2007 knowledge. I’ll discuss the PowerShell requirement in my next blog.
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