On September 2006, I wrote a blog post titled “Moving forward with Exchange”.
In that post, I was trying to place Exchange’s technological advances and requirements in the general Microsoft landscape and scheme of things.
I would like to add to that post the following:
1) The old way of doing Windows clusters was that all nodes in a cluster were attached to the same external storage. But Exchange 2007’s Cluster Continuous Replication forced a new cluster paradigm. For the first time in Microsoft’s high availability history, a cluster’s nodes had separate storage.
CCR needs a specific cluster model to work.
For Windows Server 2003, this cluster model is a Majority Node Set (MNS) quorum with file share witness. For Windows Server 2008, this cluster model is a Node and File Share Majority cluster. These two cluster models are the same thing. They both need two servers without any shared storage. Each server is standalone and part of the same cluster. These two servers, along with a file share somewhere in the network, form a cluster.
Here we have a departure from the old cluster model of two or more servers with common external storage.
This had huge positive implications. It opened the way for the new cluster models in Windows 2008. And it opened the way for GeoClusters.
2) Public folders led to SharePoint.
3) PowerShell was first put to use as the Exchange Management Shell in Exchange 2007.
4) Exchange 2007 was one of the first, if not the first, server to get the MMC 3.0 console.
5) And last but not least, a thought that is not mine: Microsoft’s David Lowe, in TechEd Europe 2008, in an interview for TechTarget talked about the Direct Access feature that we will see in Windows Server 2008 R2. From what he said, I understood that the Direct Access feature was inspired from RPC over HTTP in Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003. In RPC over HTTP we have secure access to corporate mail without the use of a VPN. The same holds true for the new Direct Access, where we have access not only to email but also to the data hosted on intranet servers. Exchange’s RPC over HTTP inspired the “secure-access-without-a-VPN” concept.
Exchange Server, being a critical IT infrastructure component, needs all the help it can get from technological advances. It is in Exchange that we are going to see a lot of innovations first put forward. Administrators had better keep an eye towards improvements in Exchange, because these more often than not signify the beginning of wider infrastructure innovations, trends and practices.