First, the announcement of changes in Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2. Besides some 500 bug fixes, SP2 contains the following new features:
- Address Book Policies (also known as GAL segmentation). ABPs are meant to segmentize the address book, giving users a certain view of the address book like Address List Segregation did for Exchange 2003/2007. ABPs were already announced back in January. I wonder how this affects for instance MailTips, as MailTips might report on organization-wide figures (sending mail to X users) while the end user may only see a small fragment of the population. Also, be advised that clients bypassing the CAS server for directory lookups, e.g. LDAP queries, don’t benefit from ABPs. Think Outlook for Mac but also multifunctionals, fax solutions etc.;
- OWA mini. This will be a lightweight browser like OMA in the past, meant for simple browsers;
- Hybrid Configuration. This wizard is to make the configuration of an on-premises Exchange and Office 365/Exchange Online more simple, reducing the steps required from 49 to 6;
- OWA Cross-Site redirection. This will allow clients to be silently redirected to the proper site if they log on to a CAS server located in a site different than the site where their mailbox is hosted and externalURL has been specified there. This greatly increases the single sign-on experience.
Be advised that Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 will require schema changes to support the new features. SP2 is scheduled for the 2nd half of 2011.
Second, starting July 2011, Microsoft announced the exam-only Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange Server 2010 certification. This is for IT Professionals with 5 years of experience who think they can do the exams without the intensive 3 weeks training. Microsoft already did the same thing to the MCM: SQL Server 2008 program last year. The Exchange MCM exam is two-fold:
- MCM: Exchange Server 2010, Knowledge Exam. This exam will be offered by Prometric at select testing centers worldwide;
- MCM: Exchange Server 2010, Lab. This exam will be offered by Microsoft via direct remote proctoring at select Microsoft facilities worldwide.
I think while its great to have the option to take the exam in a facility in the region, but the absence of 3 week intensive training including meeting and being tutored by some people of the Exchange team and meeting Exchange fellows from all over the world seems a big miss. Also, how will the market respond to MCM’s who did the 3-week training versus MCM’s who didn’t; would the latter be considered inferior or less knowledgeable? If I had the choice, I’d go through the additional 3 weeks of training, extending your network and having a chance to ask your questions at the source.
You can watch a recording of Greg Taylor’s session on SP2 features here. The official related Exchange team blog is here. More information on the new Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange Server 2010 program here; the original announcement is here.
Besides all this, a recording of Scott Schnoll’s session on Exchange 2010 Tips & Tricks can be viewed here.
(Updated on May 17th with session links)