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Exchange 12 Begins Community Tech Preview

Microsoft began shipping the first community technology preview (CTP) of Exchange 12 on Wednesday, marking the beginning of its first widespread testing.

Exchange 12 entered beta testing in December when it went out to a limited set of testers -- about 1400, according to company officials.

In contrast, the CTP will go out to all TechNet and MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers – about 200,000 all told. However, this still does not constitute a public beta, according to Megan Kidd, senior product manager on the Exchange team.

Beta 2 is expected to ship about mid-year, with final release late this year or early in 2007.

New in Exchange 12, but already present in beta 1, Microsoft officials highlighted expanded high-availability capabilities thanks to addition of "continuous replication" features. Exchange can now create a duplicate of the production mail database on the same system using a different disk drive, in a move meant to offer more availability functions to small and medium business customers.

"[It provides] entry-level availability scaled down to single-server environments," says Ray Mohrman, a technical product planner on the Exchange 12 team. A wizard-based system leads the administrator through set up procedures. The new functions also aim to increase the production database’s performance by enabling backups to be done from the copy.

A second "flavor" of continuous replication has been added at the enterprise level as well, according to officials. With so-called "cluster continuous replication," Exchange 12 will be able to perform a complete server failover in "a matter of minutes," Mohrman says.

"[And] it's able to span multiple data centers," he adds. "In the past, the underlying database was storage area network based...now, you can still use SAN or you can use network attached storage."

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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