Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Exchange 2007 SP2 is Here!

By:Rik Hoffelder
Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Exchange 2007 this week with little fanfare, so I thought it would be nice to start the article this way. Why am I excited? A few reasons actually, first it means Exchange 2010 is just around the corner; hopefully in time for Christmas. Second is that it adds a few of those "it's about time" features such as a plug-in for Windows 2008 Backup. Sure that isn't important to most of you, but for lab environments and training purposes this is a finally nice to have..

The plug-in is based on a new executable, WSBExchange.exe, which is installed automatically on Exchange 2007 Mailbox Servers running on Windows 2008. There are a few items to be aware of, first it only supports VSS backups, no streaming ESE support, which Windows 2008 Backup doesn't support anyway. Exchange backups are only supported on the local server; you cannot backup remote mailbox servers like you could in the 2003 days.

You can only perform full storage group backups, incremental backups are not available. You can back to either a local or network drive though. Committed logs are still flushed at the end of the job. But you can't restore a single database or storage group; you have to restore the whole thing. A feature I wish they would have spent a little more time on, ad-hoc incremental backups during mailbox migrations was always a plus if your short on log drive and long on mailbox data.

While it does have its limitations, it is still a useful tool for lab and training environments. After all the best time to learn Exchange database recovery is not when you have a production failure.!
So what else do I like? How about more refined mailbox and folder auditing? SP 2 offers these new access auditing enhancements that are beneficial to those in regulated industries.
  • The Folder Access category lets you log events that correspond to opening folders, such as the Inbox, Outbox, or Sent Items folders.
  • The Message Access category lets you log events that correspond to explicitly opening messages.
  • The Extended Send As category lets you log events that correspond to sending a message as a mailbox-enabled user.
  • The Extended Send On Behalf Of category lets you log events that correspond to sending a message on behalf of a mailbox-enabled user.
For those even more security conscience you can collect and store this data using System Center Operations Manager Audit Collection Services to maintain access records along with retained e-mail. Yes a bit big brother, but if it's your job is on the line, would you like proof someone else sent the message? How about if someone was posting messages directly in another mailbox to bypass journaling? I have seen it happen; now I can prove it!
Okay so there isn't a heck of lot in there but what did you expect with 2010 just around the corner?


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