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."
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.