Hopefully by now you’ve all heard the news that Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 (or “SP2” as it is better known around the the halls of Buildings 31 and 32) is available for download.

As Kevin Allison, general manager of the Exchange customer experience team, shared in the aforementioned EHLO Blog post, this update includes a bunch of commonly requested fixes and a handful of new capabilities. A few of these are worth highlighting here, as they offer you some new and improved opportunities to connect with customers and drive new business.

“What are they, Ian?” you ask?

Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious, yet ever so important: Exchange 2010 SP2 gives you a chance to call on your on-prem customers and help get them upgraded to the latest and greatest release.

Many of you likely already have standing support contracts with your customers, so while this may not necessarily generate new revenue, it does keep Exchange top of mind.  SP2 also adds to your proof points that Microsoft continually adds value to Exchange (whether on-prem or online) and that it’s no accident this happens on a fairly regular rhythm.

And, if your customer still happens to be stuck on a previous release--like that strong workhorse of email servers Exchange Server 2003, which was released 8 years, 6 months, and 5 days back, but who’s counting--why not use this latest SP release as a chance to rekindle the conversation about upgrading to Exchange 2010 (or migration to Exchange Online where you can keep your customers on the latest and greatest release all the time, and spend your engagements helping them get more out of the software they license/subscribe to)?

Next, there’s the new Hybrid Configuration Wizard which is aimed at making it easier for you to help customers deploy and support hybrid scenarios with Office 365 and Exchange Server. As an Exchange partner, this is a new tool in your tool chest that gives you the ability to better plan and execute a large scale migration from on-prem to online, or even for those customers who will make a hybrid deployment (you know, some of their users in the cloud with Exchange Online and others on-prem with Exchange Server) a permanent fixture. You can learn more about this tool (and what a hybrid deployment is all about) by checking out this recently published TechNet article “Understanding the Hybrid Configuration Wizard”.

After you read through that bit, you can then (drumroll please) checkout the new Address Book Policies feature.  I know this is something that will excite partners, as many of you, some in person, have asked me in the past, “hey, Ian, when are you going to have something like address book segmentation in Exchange 2010?”

Good news: the wait is over and just like the HCW, there’s a fantastic TechNet article for you to learn more: “Understanding Address Book Policies”.

Now this last one also has special significance for our hosting partners.  In fact, you likely recall the post we did a few months back that shared our future plans around the “/hosting” deployment mode for Exchange 2010, and how Address Book Policies are a key component to the evolution. One of the things we promised in that October post, was some new guidance on how to use SP2 (and Address Book Policies) to configure and deploy a multitenant Exchange infrastructure.

Well, that guidance is also available for download via a post that went out on the EHLO Blog earlier today: “Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2 and Hosting

And, as Greg writes in the above posting, there’s even a brand new TechNet page dedicated to this topic with a list of third-party control panel and hosting automation vendors that have been validated by our team in Building 32 for this new hosted model with SP2.

So, in conclusion, there’s a lot more in those 535.2 MB of bits than just new features and fixes.  There’s a ton of opportunity for you, our great Exchange partner ecosystem, to connect with customers, deliver new value, or even remind them of the great value they already have in both the software from us and the services you provide to help them realize the full potential of productivity it can offer.

Got more ideas or thoughts on SP2?

Share them here!

Ian
Group Product Manager
Exchange Partner Marketing