A lot has been happening in the Microsoft Exchange Server world recently, so this week's column is dedicated to a roundup of various news items that you might have missed.
First, Microsoft unveiled the next version of Office Communications Server, which is now called Microsoft Communications Server. That's right; the OCS brand has now been replaced with MCS, bringing it more in line with Microsoft's other server products. (Well, except for SharePoint, but that's a topic for another day!) MCS offers a number of interesting new features, including a new emphasis on location information and the ability to send location information using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to provide accurate information for emergency services such as 911. There's little word on how MCS will integrate with Exchange Server, or what changes it will bring for organizations that are already running Exchange, so we'll have to wait for more news to see what's what.
Second, a growing number of people are discovering that you can run the Exchange Edge Transport role together with the relatively new Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 (TMG) product, which replaces ISA Server. In this configuration, a single server can provide remote access protection, network access management, all the services offered by the Edge Transport role, and antivirus and antispam protection courtesy of Forefront Security for Exchange. This development is a major improvement over the prior requirement to run Edge Transport servers and ISA Server on separate computers, but it hasn't gotten the kind of attention in the Exchange community that it should. Check out TMG on Microsoft's website.
Third, Microsoft released the Outlook Mobile Update, which brings the features of Outlook Mobile 6.5 (or whatever it's formally called—I'm talking about the version included with Windows Mobile 6.5 phones) to Windows Mobile 6.1 devices. There's a post on the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog that talks about the update in some detail, and it includes some good-looking screen shots.
In other mobile news, there's Windows Phone 7 Series. That's about all I can say, given that the Windows Phone team hasn't said much publicly about what email features it will include in its devices. Much has been made of Windows Phone 7's market potential versus the iPhone; as I've written before, the iPhone isn't a great device for heavy mail users, so Windows Phone 7 definitely has a chance to surpass the iPhone even if all it does is provide a re-skinned, prettier version of Outlook Mobile 6.5.
Finally, a bit of non-news. While working on a training course for Exchange rookies, I needed a good overview and explanation of how transaction logging works. I'm always surprised at how many Exchange admins don't fully understand this critical aspect of Exchange database behavior. Luckily, Microsoft has a pretty good article that describes transaction logging in enough detail to be useful, "Exchange Transactions and the Exchange Database Overview." It's from 2006, so it's a bit dated because it still refers to EDB and STM files. However, the basic mechanism of logging is the same as it was then, so you should definitely read it if you want more information on how logging works.