On top of the usual complement of IT-driven fixes, Microsoft plans to include myriad features in the first service pack for Exchange Server 2010 when it ships later this year.
More like a feature pack, Exchange Server 2010 SP1 includes archiving and discovery enhancements; better Outlook Web App (OWA) performance; and mobile user and management improvements. One of the most important new features in SP1 is the ability to provision users' personal archive to a different mailbox database than the primary mailbox.
Improving storage in Exchange Server 2010
Currently, an archive mailbox must reside on the same database as that for a primary mailbox. This requirement limits the benefits of using a personal archive and, in some cases, makes an archive detrimental because of the additional server storage and maintenance needed, said Rob Sanfilippo, an Exchange analyst at the independent analyst firm Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash.
Allowing the primary and personal archive mailboxes to reside on different mailbox databases is a big improvement because administrators can put archives on dedicated disks or servers that have separate storage, maintenance routines, and fault tolerance configurations, Sanfilippo said.
Most of the other improvements in SP1 address functionality gaps or minor improvements that didn't make it into the original release.
An additional function is tether-free Information Rights Management (IRM) support via Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) so that end users can send and receive IRM-protected mail without connecting their device to Windows Mobile Device Center for provisioning.
SP1 will also bring several new management user interface (UI) enhancements for management tasks in the Exchange Management Console (EMC) and Exchange Control Panel (ECP).
The additions to the EMC, including tools to create retention policy tags, and ECP should be helpful and bring greater parity among these tools and the Exchange Management Shell, Sanfilippo said.
The Multimailbox Search feature, which can be used for e-discovery of email to comply with information laws and regulations, now includes a new search preview and a new search result deduplication option, and added support for annotation of reviewed items.
Microsoft also improved the performance of Outlook Web App and addressed common problems. For one, attaching a very large file no longer creates hang-ups with the rest of the OWA functions. The UI has also been simplified so that it is easier to use on small screens such as netbooks, tablets and other devices.
The SP1 beta will be available for download when TechEd North America 2010 kicks off in June.
Many organizations align their upgrade plans with the first service pack of a new product, so the availability of SP1 later this year may accelerate Exchange Server 2010 adoption, Sanfilippo said.