Exchange 12 To Rely On JET Engine Standby

Chief among the improvements are promised voice-mail and fax integration, better security and support for 64-bit Windows Server, said Dave Thompson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Exchange Server Product Group. While some partners said the decision to base the next major release on JET instead of on the still-delayed WinFS unified store was disappointing, they said some customers are more comfortable with a phased, evolutionary upgrade.

"I would have liked to see WinFS and new database functionality, but they're doing a lot to optimize the current engine," said Robert Bakker, lead architect specializing in Exchange deployments for Capgemini's office in Utrecht, Netherlands.

His customers will likely see improved backup as E-12's biggest selling point. He said this release can also be more easily deployed without public folders, the use of which often causes problems.

The release is slated for the Office 12 time frame, which would put it on track for 2006 or 2007. Thompson touted a simpler "role-based" architecture, as well as better support for scripting to ease management.

Sponsored post

SharePoint portals will become the venue for such shared documents over time, and Microsoft is working to make the management and access of Exchange and SharePoint more uniform, Bakker said.

Dana Gardner, an analyst at The Yankee Group, said Microsoft down-scaling its grand Exchange plans may work in its favor. At one point, Microsoft pushed Exchange Server as the basis for collaborative applications in an attempt to dislodge Lotus Domino. But Exchange was not up to the task. Meanwhile, "people started collaborating through blogs or doing app design through Web portals. Exchange got lucky in a sense. By not going to groupware, it's not stuck behind a portal and a hard place right now," he said.

The retreat from once-promised features has confused partners and customers alike. "[Microsoft] flubbed the whole unified store thing. Their credibility is shot with respect to collaboration on Exchange," said one longtime Exchange partner.

But perhaps more important, for many companies, legacy mail systems such as Exchange and Domino are beside the point, the partner said. "In small and medium-[size] businesses, Exchange faces Hotmail, [which] gives you 250 Mbytes of free storage, a calendar that can interact with Office, and it's free. If that's not enough, you can pay $9.95 a month and get more. That's an appealing story."