New Exchange exams likely to emphasise roles and security

Brush up on your knowledge of Exchange Server roles and security. These changes in the next generation of Exchange will likely factor heavily in the certification exams.

IT workers seeking certification in Exchange Server 2007 must prove they understand the product's additional security and server roles when it's test time.

One expert predicts that IT administrators will have to know more about the architecture, about the different server roles. There used to be two server roles: the front end and the back end. But in Exchange Server 2007 there will be five server roles. They are Client Access, Mailbox, Unified Messaging, HUB Transport and Edge Transport.

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"For those systems with [fewer than] 500 seats, it's possible to have four of those roles on one server," said Lee Benjamin, an Exchange Server expert at ExchangeGuy Consulting, in Boston. "In larger environments they'll have to show how they would split those up and make it all work well."

Benjamin said that the exams, like the product itself, would also have a much larger emphasis on security. Among the increased security features in Exchange Server 2007 are automatic patching and updating, edge-to-edge encryption, improved support for information rights management and some improvements to its existing antivirus and antispam features.

The beta Exchange Server 2007 exams will likely be released this fall. The product itself should be available 30 to 180 days after Microsoft releases Exchange Server 2007 to manufacturing.

There will be three exams: one that will test the breadth and depth of the test taker's technical knowledge and two tests where that knowledge must be applied in realistic scenarios.

"This is the second wave of new-generation certification exams," said Al Valvano, Microsoft's director of certification programs. "And part of our design objectives has been to more accurately reflect user job roles."

The tests have not been named yet, said Microsoft officials.

Exchange Server 2007 differs technically from its predecessor, Exchange Server 2003, in several important ways. It is based on 64-bit technology, not 32-bit. Improvements include automatic patching and updating, edge-to-edge encrypting, updated antivirus and antispam features and local continuous replication and cluster continuous replication.

A second, costlier version of Exchange Server 2007 will be available for customers that want unified messaging as well as managed antivirus and antispam services through Microsoft's software subscription service.

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