My career as an IT Pro started in 1997, the same year as Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 was released. I didn´t make it in time to actually design and implement 5.5 but I did a number of migrations to Exchange 2000/2003.
I´m happy that Exchange Server 5.5 has evolved and it´s been mature for quite a while, still it´s with Exchange 2010 that it´s finally grew up and left it´s teen period.
The big news with Exchange 2010 is DAG = Database Group, which makes high availability so much easier. Forget about active / passive clusters with expensive SAN disk and lot´s of administration. DAG transforms your mailbox server into an almost domain controller like state. This means that you can use direct attached storage to each mailbox server. The server hardware no longer has to be identical. How does this work? Well to begin with, Outlook clients no longer connect directly to the mailbox server; all traffic (Outlook RPC, Anywhere and OWA) is routed to the client access server (CAS). You can easily load balance multiple CAS servers using NLB. The client access list keeps track of which mailbox server to contact, and if the mailbox server goes offline it looks in the mailbox server priority list and takes the next one in the list.
Storage groups has been thrown in the trashcan, this is lovely! Just create a database and connect it to the DAG, and choose which servers to include in it. Now all databases are replicated between each other.
If you combine DAG with a retention policy that is synchronized with your policy on how long deleted emails should be stored, you can build an Exchange mailbox server topology that doesn’t require any backup at all!
If you have an 3rd party archiving solution in Exchange 2007, you can most likely get rid of it when you upgrade to Exchange 2010, this is because EXchange 2010 now includes a built-in archiving solution.
If you´re sitting on an older Exchange version – building a business case on how much money that can be saved would be very interesting!
If you combine the cost lowering features in Exchange 2010 with BPOS you will have happy users and more budget space for that cool training course you long for! Identify different user profiles withing your organization, from a BPOS perspective.
There´s no longer a problem having a mixed user base consisting of on premise Exchange / Outlook 2010 users and BPOS user running Outlook / OWA. A seamless user experience and migration between on premise and BPOS is here.
This may sound like a Microsoft commercial, well it´s not. I happen to like Microsoft Exchange but I recommend you to evaluate other options when moving email to the cloud (SaaS). Lotus Live is really existing and you can evaluate is for free!
A good DAG posting here: http://www.exchange-genie.com/2009/04/database-availability-group-dag-exchange-2010/
By they way, if you know of any good resources for 70-662, let me know 🙂