A whole new version of Exchange, three years in the making
A New Era of Administration
Previous versions of Exchange include a Windows-based administration console. A central theme in Server 2012 is remote administration. Exchange 2010 demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach by using remote PowerShell as the underlying foundation for all of its management interfaces, including the Microsoft Management Console (MMC)-based Exchange Management Console (EMC).
Exchange 2010 also includes a browser-based administration console, the Exchange Control Panel (ECP), which is used as the primary management tool for Exchange Online. The ECP is effective in many respects. For example, its interface is built from "slabs," each of which reveals the necessary UI for specific functionality, such as executing multi-mailbox discovery searches. The ECP exposes slabs based on users' Role Based Access Control (RBAC) membership. For example, a user who is a member of the Discovery Management role group will see the UI to create, execute, and examine mailbox searches. If you're not a member of this role group, the ECP simply rearranges UI elements to disguise the fact that mailbox searches even exist.
management is performed through a much-enhanced version of the ECP called the Exchange Administration Center (EAC), which Figure 1 shows.
The EAC uses the same UI framework as the ECP but expands its functionality to include all of the management components that the ECP doesn't support, such as DAG management (see Figure 2) and the wizards that automate many aspects of Exchange server management.
The EAC follows the design principles for Metro-style interfaces, as does the upgraded version of Outlook Web App (OWA). In addition to being more approachable for inexperienced administrators than the EMC's complex layout is, Microsoft notes that the EAC is far more efficient than the EMC at dealing with a large number of objects and is therefore capable of handling even the largest Exchange deployment.
Few will shed many tears at the demise of the EMC. Despite its richness in features, the EMC was slow and unwieldy and had suffered some recent problems when Internet Explorer 9.0 changed an underlying component. It makes more sense for Microsoft to concentrate its efforts on browser-based management tools that can be used on almost any PC, as well as on other devices such as iPads. In addition, the EAC provides the basis for a common administrative platform shared between on-premises and cloud deployments. The only downside is the loss of the EMC's three PowerShell learning tools. Many administrators used the EMC's ability to display the PowerShell code it executed as a way to become accustomed to PowerShell syntax and constructs.