Microsoft is championing the server's enhanced deployment capabilities and the partnerships it has forged with more than 200 vendors to deliver solutions for Exchange 2003.
The new deployment tools are designed to enable Exchange 5.5 customers to more easily upgrade to the new version while maintaining the availability of their messaging infrastructures.
Active Directory was made easier to deploy and operate with the availability of the Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) 2.0 and the Exchange Active Directory Connector (ADC). ADMT 2.0 helps users, computers, and groups migrate to the Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Service, while ADC enables coexistence and replication between the Exchange 5.5 directory and Active Directory. A new ADC wizard simplifies the setup of the connection agreements necessary between these directories.
In addition, Exchange 2003 can be deployed in phases and can coexist with other messaging servers running Exchange 2000 or Exchange 5.5. On the desktop, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 (in Office XP) and Outlook 2000 can work with Exchange 2003, and the new Outlook Web Access can be deployed to make the latest e-mail management functionality available to users from almost any desktop.
Microsoft also announced that to further enhance Exchange 2003 it has inked partnerships with more than 200 enterprises that plan develop additional functionality for the messaging server, thus giving Exchange customers the infrastructure needed to deploy and run Exchange 2003.
As part of the Exchange Partner Developer Beta Program, Microsoft has made early builds of Exchange Server 2003 available to ISVs, solution providers and systems integrators.
Antivirus and antispam industry partners, including Brightmail, Computer Associates, GFI Software, Network Associates Technology, Symantec, and Trend Micro have pledged their support behind the updated virus-scanning API (VSAPI) 2.5 and a new antispam tool.
Other partners, such as CommVault Systems, Dell Computer, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Legato Systems, and Veritas Software have committed to delivering solutions for enhanced backup and restore operations based on the new Volume Shadow Copy Services supported in Exchange 2003 and Windows 2003.
Starting with RC1, Exchange 2003 will be available in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. Standard Edition is being positioned at small to midsize organizations as well as branch offices of larger enterprises, while Enterprise Edition is being targeted at larger organizations with more-complex deployments and scalability requirements.
Standard Edition can also be used in a front-end scenario, allowing customers to deploy Outlook Web Access without the expense of purchasing Enterprise Edition.
Although RC1 is optimized for Windows Server 2003, it is also compatible with Windows 2000 Server and is directly upgradable to the final version of Exchange 2003.
The test code for of Exchange Server 2003 RC1 is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/evaluation/ti/.