What is the News?
On October 13th, Microsoft announced that the /hosting mode option for deploying Exchange for multi-tenant hosting will not be carried forward into the next version of Exchange. Going forward (starting with Exchange 2010 SP2), hosters should use the on-premises configuration of Exchange to run a multi-tenant hosted Exchange infrastructure which will be fully supported by Microsoft and offers a broader set of features to be offered to end customers.
Hosters who have deployed Exchange 2010 SP1 /hosting have the following options:
Microsoft is also actively engaging with several hosting automation software vendors and SIs to ensure there are solutions in market for the on-premises configuration of Exchange Server 2010 SP2.
We want to hear your feedback on this announcement. Please send any questions or comments to: h o s t i n g b l o g [at] m i c r o s o f t [dot] com
Q: Why is Microsoft making this change?
A: We believe, after considering feedback from partners, this is the best, most flexible course of action available to support our hosting partners. This will ensure that hosters are able to offer a broader set of the features available in Exchange, and bring their solutions to market sooner.
Q: What are the hoster benefits of deploying an on-premises configuration of Exchange?
A: Our research tells us that customers are upgrading to Exchange 2010 to access advanced feature like Exchange Unified Messaging. Switching to the on-premises configuration of Exchange will allow hosters to offer many of these advanced features available in Microsoft Exchange in a fully supported model.
Q: Will Microsoft continue to offer bug and security fixes for Exchange 2010 /hosting mode?
A: Yes, Microsoft will continue to offer bug and security fixes for Exchange 2010 /hosting mode as per our standard product support lifecycle. Microsoft will not add new features to the /hosting mode of Exchange.
Q: Will Microsoft add any new features or capabilities to Exchange 2010 /hosting mode?
A: Microsoft will not be adding any new features or capabilities to Exchange 2010 /hosting mode. Microsoft will, however, continue to release bug and security fixes through the standard product support lifecycle.
Q: What new features in Exchange 2010 SP2 make it possible to host the on-premises configuration of Exchange 2010?
A: The key new feature which hosters will take advantage of is known as Address Book Policies (ABP). ABP allows for easy segmentation of the global address list, and will be the prescribed method for achieving this when running a multi-tenant hosting infrastructure. It is important to note that ABPs do not address all the configuration elements required for multi-tenancy; additional configuration guidance will be published by Microsoft later this year.
Q: How do I go about building a multi-tenant environment using Exchange 2010 SP2 on-premises configuration, and what will I have to do to make sure I still get support from Microsoft?
A: Later this year, we will publish hosting guidelines that will outline the challenges hosters will need to address when hosting a multi-tenant infrastructure using the on-premises version of Exchange 2010 SP2. The document will recommend the approach you should use to solve these challenges but will not provide step by step guidance on how to do it. This framework will also help you ensure you solution will be supported by Microsoft.
Q: Will HMC support be extended considering that the recommendation is to use Exchange 2010 SP2 which won’t be available until later this year?
A: HMC 3.5 support ended July 12, 2011. Microsoft will support HMC 4.x through December 12, 2011 as planned. The good news is that the upgrade from Exchange 2007 with HMC to Exchange 2010 SP2 using the on-premises configuration will be significantly more streamlined than an upgrade to Exchange 2010 using /hosting mode.