Great Expectations: Exchange 2000

We've deployed Exchange 5.5 with Service Pack 3 installed on Windows 2000 Advanced Server since Microsoft Corp.'s operating system was in its Release Candidate 2 phase. To facilitate interoperability with Microsoft's Active Directory, Windows 2000 uses an Active Directory Connector that synchronizes information between the Active Directory and the Exchange Directory. This implementation has worked flawlessly thus far, and we've found our Windows 2000-based Exchange Server to be more robust and reliable than its Windows NT 4.0 predecessor.

That said, we expect great things from Exchange 2000 when it ships. Rather than simply connecting to Active Directory by virtue of a middleware software component as Exchange 5.5 does, Exchange 2000 will sport true integration with Microsoft's directory services. From an administrative standpoint, this should allow for a single user, messaging, and network management environment.

To increase scalability, Exchange 2000 will permit the use of multiple message databases, making it possible for Exchange administrators to partition a single logical database across multiple physical databases. This will reduce the load upon individual servers, improving redundancy and reducing overall backup and restore times. In the areas of high availability and fault tolerance, Exchange 2000 will support up to four-way active/active clustering with Windows 2000's TCP/IP load balancing and Microsoft Cluster fail-over services.

In the areas of collaboration and knowledge management, Exchange 2000 could be a dynamo. Exchange 2000 will boast a new feature called a Webstore that seems a lot like GroupWise's Universal Mailbox. It will provide anytime, anywhere access to information and data of all types. Exchange 2000 also will ship with enhancements to its chat services and conferencing capabilities, and will include advanced workflow features built around Microsoft's Collaboration Data Objects API.