At IT Forum this week, Microsoft will (or have just announced) announce broad support for 64 bit across many of its product lines. As part of that announcement we will be announcing that Exchange 12 will be 64 bit only.  This is a significant decision for us and it is one that we did not make lightly. You probably have many questions as to why Exchange 12 will be 64 bit only.  Following are some of the key questions and corresponding answers that I thought were of major importance.

Question 1: Why did Microsoft make the decision to offer Exchange 12 as a 64-bit only application?
Answer:
Email truly is a “mission critical” application in most organizations today, and we heard from our customers that they were pushing the limits with their current messaging solutions.  Demands being placed on messaging solutions continue to grow, and by nature 32-bit email server systems have memory limitations (4GB) which restrict their ability to cost effectively support these needs.   Additionally, customers want to consolidate their servers to manage cost and complexity.  64-bit servers provide the system architecture required to meet both of these needs (accommodating new demands and consolidating servers).

Question 2: Isn’t 64 bit only required for very high scale customers?
Answer:
The 64 bit architecture enables Exchange 12 to use inexpensive memory to reduce very expensive disk usage. Today, approximately 80% of the capital cost required to run Exchange is for storage. Our testing shows 64 bit Exchange 12 requires 4x fewer random IO’s per second than 32 bit Exchange 2003, which translate into large savings for all customers – especially as mailbox sizes grow.

Question 3: Will customers who want to upgrade to Exchange 12 be required to purchase new hardware?
Answer: The majority of server hardware being sold today is x64-based and many businesses are already enjoying its advantages and will not need to purchase new hardware.  If you look at the CPU market today, the majority of the 32 bit only processors are diminishing greatly and being replaced with x64 capable processors.  If a customer has not already made the move to x64 systems they will need to purchase new hardware for those servers upon which they plan to install and run Exchange 12. 

In my humble opinion, this is GREAT news for our customers who are looking to deploy Exchange 12 when it releases!!!  I know so many folks now who own x64 machines at home as well and already see the transition to this platform with a lot of my customers (and friends).