Challenges and Breakthroughs
The new command-line interface, known as the Exchange Management Shell, would be more impactful "right now" on Exchange administrators than switching the data store. "As we plan the next version of Exchange [currently code-named Exchange 14], it may be that the biggest breakthrough we can make for storage management is to switch to the SQL data store. Well probably know that in about six months time," he said.But the Exchange team had done some work on the architecture in Exchange 2007 that would allow it to more flexibly change databases in the future. "When we do that, we will do so because its a benefit to customers. That is the yardstick we will use when considering this in each future version of Exchange," he said. But some competitors like Julie Hanna Farris, the founder and chief strategy officer of Scalix, a messaging infrastructure company based in San Mateo, Calif., whose products are based on a Linux and open systems architecture, claim that the underlying architecture of Exchange suffers from more than its fair share of reliability and security problems, the fundamental causes of which have not been addressed in Exchange 2007. The Exchange message store, based on the Jet database, is prone to corruptions and is difficult to manage and maintain, she said, adding, "this is a long-standing, known problem, and plans to replace the Exchange message store have been iteratively postponed." At the same time, Exchange upgrades had come to mean a perpetual rearchitecture of customers e-mail environments, she said. For example, with Exchange 2007, the requirement for 64-bit hardware meant that customers would once again have to upgrade their hardware to use the latest product, she said. But Myerson disagreed, saying there were no reliability issues with Jet. The big opportunity for Microsoft in moving to the SQL store was that this would make all of their data management consistent; from a line of business application to collaboration and communications applications. "All their high-availability data disaster recovery would then be consistent," he said. Microsofts competitors were missing the point when they said it was about scalability and reliability, as "really it isnt. Its about customers having two backup applications for SAP and Exchange, and two high availability plans for Siebel and Exchange, and customers would love to have one," Myerson said. But Keith McCall, a former Exchange executive and now the chief technology officer at Azaleos in Redmond, Wash., says that in every seminar and customer discussion his company has, it hears the urgent plea for archiving solutions to help with storage management, compliance, and Exchange reliability and performance. Click here to read more about how the Azaleos BladeMail appliance simplifies Microsoft Exchange e-mail. "Storage management is the single biggest issue facing Exchange customers today after high availability. In some of our customers, Exchange mail store sizes are growing at 7 percent a month and the growth in larger local drive capacities are not sufficient to meet e-mail demand. "Exchange customers are also switching en masse to storing e-mail on SANs to help address Exchange store reliability and growth issues," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
Dave Thompson, the corporate vice president of Microsofts Exchange Server product group, told eWEEK that the team had decided to stay with the Jet engine in Exchange 2007 based on customer feedback around scalability, programmability and availability.