Examining the benefits of Exchange 2000

Earlier this month, Microsoft shipped Exchange 2000 Server, which extends the platform's messaging roots into conferencing and collaboration. The server, and its marriage to Windows 2000 and Active Directory, will present many challenges for IT executives. Gordon Mangione, vice president of Exchange Server, recently discussed the new product with Network World Senior Editor John Fontana.

Customers, analysts and business partners say Exchange 2000 is finally a development platform. Why? What has been added that was missing before?

There are a couple of key things. One is we analyzed the feature sets that customers said we needed to be competitive: roles, item-level security, a bunch of things we needed to get to parity where Notes has had an advantage in the past. We think we totally nailed those. The place where I think we just completely surpassed [Lotus] is the area of Web-based integration and XML integration. We made sure everything was URL addressable and built a real file system on top of Exchange.

There are a lot of capabilities in Exchange 2000 that are not really for the traditional e-mail administrator. How does the role of the administrator evolve with this platform?

Administrators today, when they roll out Exchange, tend to say, "Here is a set of servers that I am going to dedicate to my messaging environment." Generally, they will continue to do that. But what we've added with multiple hierarchies and databases is the ability to deploy individual servers that are more application based. And what [administrators] are going to do is segment that environment.

Exchange 2000 is no longer a server upgrade, but it is now an infrastructure upgrade. Explain what it takes to migrate for the typical company running Exchange 5.5 and Windows NT in terms of manpower and technology.

The key thing you've got to get right is Active Directory. Don't just think about rolling Active Directory to upgrade your domain controllers, you've got to think how it is going to affect your Exchange servers as well.

And how you do the layout of your global catalogs, and how you place your domain controllers, it's all very important. Your global catalogs are more than just a way to find users, they provide your global address list, they are the way you route e-mail within your organization.

So the performance of your global catalogs will impact how quickly you are delivering e-mail.

Conferencing and collaboration are big themes for Exchange 2000. What does IT need to do about network design and bandwidth to handle these new capabilities?

We think the use of multicast is very important. It gives you the efficiency of bandwidth; you are mulitcasting a conference and everyone subscribes. We also enable IT to indicate how much network bandwidth will be provisioned for conferencing at any one time. That control is in the server.

There are lots of serious legal issues around storing and deleting e-mail, some that you are familiar with. Why doesn't Exchange have some built-in, high-end archiving system?

There are the [Securities and Exchange Commission] requirements that we support as part of the base product that allow you to put disclaimers on messages. But this is an area where we are, in the future, looking at hhow we do better hierarchical storage management.

Is Microsoft's Local Web Storage System its answer to Lotus' replication technology?

We think of replication as passing the baton -- [the information] was living on the server, now let's have it live on the client.

Oh, now let's have it go live back on the server. This is really caching, almost in the sense of an Internet Explorer cache, where what we really are trying to do from an efficiency standpoint is give you a local version of what is residing on the server.

There is a fundamental improvement here and that is about the word 'Web' in Web Storage System. Now we are talking HTTP between that local cache and the server, and we've talked about the advantages of that.

This story, "Examining the benefits of Exchange 2000" was originally published by Network World.

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