The more things (Ex)change, the more they don’t stay the same.

July 2, 2010 at 8:50 am | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | Leave a comment
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There are two constants in this world: taxes and change. You can complain about both, but you had better not avoid either one. In the last five years, I have had to learn three different Exchange  versions: Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007, and now Exchange 2010. I may groan and complain every step of the way, but I do enjoy the challenge of learning new things and expanding my horizons. The best way I know to handle change is to tackle it head-on.

When I had to tackle Exchange 2007, I relied on my previous experience with Exchange 2003. As you probably know, there were a whole lot of changes from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, so that was some serious tackling. When I had to tackle Exchange 2010, though, I found that the leap up from Exchange 2007 was not nearly as exhausting. As with any version upgrade, Microsoft will test on topics from both the old and new versions (such as upgrades, migration, and co-existence) as well as the nuts-and-bolts of the current system’s operation. Understandably, new features also get a lot of coverage in the objectives. With that in mind, here are some new-to-2010 concepts that will be tested on the TS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring (70-662) exam and the Pro: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 (70-663) exam.

Here are a few major changes that you may want to study in more depth:

  • Say goodbye to databases being tied to a single Exchange 2010 server. (Free at last, free at last; the databases are free at last.)
  • Storage groups have been removed, and there are new data storage options.
  • You can have copies of the database on other mailbox servers.
  • RBAC is the new permissions model.
  • Shadow redundancy is now enabled for messages in transit.
  • Transport protection rules are integrated with AD RMS.
  • Databases are created at the organizational level.

This last change can cause a problem with naming databases since they are organization-wide; therefore, you will need a unique name for the database. You may want to include the unique name of the server in the database name, which will ensure you have a unique name for the database itself. I use numbering to determine which server has the original database and not a copy of the database. For example, you could create a database called Srv55-DB01 to indicate that the master copy of the database (01) is on Srv55. The concept of organization-wide databases falls under the “Create and configure databases” sub-objective of the 70-662 study guide, and is also covered in the “Deploy mailbox server role” sub-objective of the 70-663 study guide.

About 20% of the 70-663 exam will focus on the “Planning the Exchange Server 2010 Infrastructure” objective. Among the 2007-to-2010 changes in this category is that Exchange 2010 reduces disk I/O operations by almost 70% over Exchange Server 2007. So what? Well, that means you can use cheaper and larger disks for data storage, such as Serial ATA disks. And with so many IT departments watching their wallets, who wouldn’t love a low-cost storage solution?

One major change you may have noticed already: the  permissions model for Exchange 2007 has been replaced by Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) in 2010. RBAC allows you to apply granular permissions to users. For example, if you have a group of admins that should be allowed to manage only a certain set of users in a particular location instead of the entire organization, you can use RBAC to configure permissions for those admins. You  could create a new role group named Recipient Management-Atlanta Admins to allow a specific group of admins to manage recipient tasks in your Atlanta location only. RBAC offers you a lot of freedom to assign permissions, but it is complex, which means a lot of Exchange admins just don’t like to deal with it. Too bad; it’s specifically mentioned in the “Design and deploy Exchange permissions model” sub-objective of 70-663, and has its very own sub-objective (called, oddly enough, “Configure RBAC”) on the 70-662 exam as part of “Configuring Exchange Recipients and Public Folders,” which is weighted at 14% of the exam.

Unlike previous versions of Exchange, Exchange 2010 provides shadow redundancy. Shadow redundancy provides a failsafe for messages for the entire time the message is in transit. A message is not deleted until the transport server verifies that the message has completed delivery. The transport dumpster feature, which was introduced in Exchange Server 2007, provided a basic level of transport redundancy for message delivery in a CCR environment. However, the transport dumpster did not address the potential for message loss when messages are in transit between a Hub Transport and an Edge Transport server, whereas shadow redundancy does. Shadow redundancy is a part of the “Planning the Exchange Server 2010 Infrastructure” objective (weighted at 20%) of 70-663.

In Exchange 2010, you can integrate transport protection rules with AD Rights Management Services (RMS). AD RMS identifies users and provides the users with licenses for protected information. It also provides IRM (Information Rights Management) protection. AD RMS can work with RMS-enabled applications, such as Microsoft Office and OWA, to protect messages and documents online and offline. To use IRM protection in an Exchange 2010 organization, you will need to deploy Windows Server 2008 with AD RMS installed. For 70-663, AD RMS integration is covered under the “Designing and Deploying Security for the Exchange Organization” objective, weighted at 20 percent of the test.

Transport rules are covered under multiple objectives and sub-objectives of 70-663 that together weigh in at 40% of the exam, so I’d recommend that you know this topic backwards and forwards. For 70-662, transport rules are covered under “Configuring Message Transport” (15% of the test) and “Configuring Message Compliance and Security” (13% of the test). Again, with 28% of the exam potentially covering transport rule-related questions, I’d study up on this topic.

Good luck!

–George Monsalvatge

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