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Upgrading from Exchange Server 2007 to 2010

Performing Exchange Server 2010 upgrades can create new business opportunities for solutions providers and deliver new features to customers.

Staying updated on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 will help you expand your service offerings once the new messaging server hits the market in the fourth quarter of this year. (The Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Release Candidate is available now.)

More Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 resources:
New features in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 study guide

Using high-availability options in Exchange 2007

Dilemma: Exchange Server 2007 won't run on next Windows Server

In this tip, you'll learn about new features in the upcoming release and find out how to perform Exchange Server 2010 upgrades, including the installation process and migrations from Exchange Server 2007 mailboxes to Exchange Server 2010 mailbox servers.


New features in Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft built Exchange Server 2010 with these three design goals in mind, and they're important to point out to your customers who are considering upgrading:

  1. Improved flexibility and reliability

  2. Enhanced access to mailboxes

  3. Better protection and improved compliance

Exchange 2010 uses the same server roles as Exchange 2007, but the new version has some significant improvements over its predecessor. One upgrade is that you can deploy multiple server roles on a server that is hosting highly available mailbox stores. In Exchange 2007, you can't consolidate highly available mailbox servers with other Exchange server roles.

Another new feature is that all clients, including Outlook 2007 and other Messaging Application Programming Interface clients, connect to the Client Access Server (CAS) role instead of connecting to the mailbox server role. Because of this connection ability, future versions of Exchange Server may use SQL Server as a mailbox database engine. But Microsoft hasn't confirmed this speculation yet.

There are two notable improvements for storage in Exchange Server 2010. Choosing between storage hardware or store mailboxes in Microsoft data centers is now a more flexible process. Exchange solutions providers can choose to have Microsoft-hosted mailboxes, or they can choose to host the mailboxes themselves. Another improvement in the storage area is that there is now up to 70% reduction of disk I/O per second and greater resiliency against data corruption.

Exchange 2010 also adds speech-to-text translation for voicemail messages delivered by unified messaging servers.

In addition, Microsoft made several security and compliance improvements: Exchange 2010 uses new, integrated archiving options and eliminated .PST files; it integrates with Windows Rights Management Services to protect classified email; and it has added one-click mail encryption for Internet-bound messages.


Installation of Exchange Server 2010

If you are about to install Exchange Server 2010 on your customer's network, make sure you are using a Windows Server 2008 computer. In addition, you must verify that Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, WinRM 2.0 Customer Technology Preview (CTP) 3 and Windows PowerShell V2 CTP3 are installed.

Exchange 2010 assumes that your client's Active Directory domain has a least one Windows Server 2003 SP1 domain controller. To prepare Active Directory for Exchange 2010, you must run "setup /PrepareLegacyExchangePermissions" on all the Active Directory domains where you will place Exchange 2010 servers. For the Active Directory Schema updates, run "setup /PrepareSchema." When finished with these two commands, you must run the third and last command, "setup /PrepareAD," to prepare Active Directory for Exchange 2010. You can find the entire step-by-step list of Active Directory preparation for Exchange 2010 at Microsoft TechNet.

Now start the Exchange Installation utility and follow the instructions. For a test environment, make sure you have installed at least the following Exchange server roles: Mailbox, Client Access and Hub Transport.


Transitioning to Exchange Server 2010

After upgrading to Exchange Server 2010, the next step is to move your customer's existing mailboxes to the new server. In Exchange 2007 days, migrating from Exchange 2003 was pretty easy. The only thing you had to be concerned about was timing. Moving large mailboxes over a network can take hours, so it was very important to choose a reasonable time for the actual transfer. Moving mailboxes to Exchange 2010 is a slightly different process, and it is an improved one.

There are two ways to move mailboxes: You can use the Move-Mailbox commandlet in PowerShell or you can use the Move Mailbox Wizard from within the Exchange Management Console.

In Exchange 2010, mailbox migrations occur asynchronously, which keeps the mailboxes online. Users are still able to work with Exchange during the move, making it possible to move mailboxes during business hours. Mailbox moves are done in two ways. The first is by using the Move-Mailbox commandlet in Powershell, the second is by using the New-MoveRequest commandlet.

When you use the Move-Mailbox commandlet, it logs into both the source database and the target database and moves the content from one mailbox to the other. While the commandlet is running, you can't close the shell until the command completes, otherwise the move will fail. The move process can take several hours to complete, but because users are able to work during the move, work productivity levels should remain unaffected.

In an online mailbox move, which occurs during a New-MoveRequest, the end users can still access their email accounts during the actual mailbox move. Online mailbox moves are only supported between Exchange 2010 databases. You can perform an asynchronous mailbox move across trusted Active Directory forests or within an Active Directory forest.

The New-MoveRequest commandlets can perform an asynchronous move because they do not perform the actual migration. The Mailbox Replication Service (MRS), which is a new service running on the Exchange 2010 CAS, performs the migration. The New-MoveRequest sends a request to the MRS.

The benefit of using MRS is that it allows you to manage mailbox moves from a shell after the move request is placed. Be aware that not all methods are supported for mailbox moves between the different versions of Exchange. If you are moving mailboxes from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010, the Move-Mailbox commandlet and the wizards do work, but the New-MoveRequest commandlet is not available.

Exchange 2010 builds on technology that has already proven to have widespread acceptance in the market. But keep in mind that some of the new features provide more benefits to certain customers than others. The new way of creating highly available mailbox databases can be considered as the best new feature, because it addresses the need for a highly available Exchange environment that can be created without complexity.

At the time of writing this article, only the release candidate for Exchange Server 2010 is available to the public. Therefore, not all of the features described in this article work completely. However, all of the described features are most likely to be available in the RTM release of Exchange 2010.

About the expert
Alex de Jong is a freelance IT professional who specializes in Microsoft System Center, Exchange and infrastructures. As a consultant and trainer, Alex focuses on enterprise-sized networks. Alex is a very popular speaker at worldwide technical events, including ones held by Microsoft. He has written seven books about Windows and networking and contributes to several magazines.

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