HMC Migration and Exchange 2010 SP1 Hosting Mode

September 27, 2010
Its no longer news (it shouldnt be I hope) that HMC 4.5 is the last version of the Multi-Tenant Hosted Solution.  Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1 will form part of the suite of multi-tenant capable products that will replace the Hosted Messaging and Collaboration 4.5 solution.
The following is taken from the HMC Site
 
“With the release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft is creating a new way to support hosted Exchange deployments. Hosting in Exchange Server 2010 will be available approximately twelve months after the release of Exchange Server 2010. HMC 4.5 is the last version of this solution. Microsoft will support HMC 3.5 through July 12 2011, and will support HMC 4.x through December 12, 2011…”
 
So, now that we have the release of Exchange 2010 SP1, Exchange can now be installed in a “hosting” mode (see below for MS lastest Multi-Tenancy support notes release); this is the preferred and recommended approach for delivering shared Exchange 2010 hosting.  However its not all a bed of roses, with it being the first release. There are some ‘features’ not included and not supported. Time will tell if support is added for these, how the hosting community responds, feeds back. Much like we saw several ‘features’ removed/ not supported in 2007 RTM, only to re-appear/ be included in 2007 SP1.
 
Microsoft’s latest Notes on Multi-Tenancy Support in Exchange 2010 SP1 (23/08/2010):
 
Support for Multi-Tenancy

With Exchange 2010 2010 SP1 built-in multi-tenant support, service providers that use Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) no longer need a solution such as Microsoft Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 4.5 to host multiple organizations. Multi-tenant support provides the core feature set of Microsoft Exchange that can be deployed to multiple customers in a single installation and provides ease of management and flexibility of provided features to end-users.

The hosting solution available for Exchange 2010 SP1 includes most of the features and functionality available in Exchange 2010 SP1 Enterprise deployments  but also includes features and functionality that allow you to create and manage tenant organizations.

The multi-tenant capabilities in Exchange 2010 SP1 form part of the suite of multi-tenant capable products that will replace the Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 4.5 solution

The bit to be interested (or concerned with) is what does ‘…most of the features and functionality…” really mean?

This may very well rule out Hosting Mode if you were aiming to take advantage of some its new multi-tenat features; depends if you can live without those features. As mentioned earlier, MS may shorten this list of ‘Not Supported’ and add in a future release. If you need some of those features from day one you may have to re-visit the drawing board.

Useful resources and information on this topic….

I was going to include some of the slides form the MS Presentation on Migration of HMC to EX2010 SP1, but to save blog space you can read them in the PDF’d powerpoint in the linke above.

The following taken from http://blogs.technet.com/b/provtest/

To put it simply, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 for instance the products will be natively mutli-tenant and will be tested by the product group instead of a separate HMC solutions team. In the new model, Microsoft is taking a slightly different approach compared to HMC. In HMC, Microsoft provides almost the full solution (except for the Control Panel) and detail steps on how to setup the whole hosted environment. It includes resource management, service plan management, multiple services orchestration (SharePoint, OCS, CRM, Exchange and etc.), roll back and transaction orchestration and etc.

As we move towards Exchange 2010 SP1, you will see some of the HMC functionalities will be moved to become native features of Exchange, for example, building and provisioning the multi-tenant architecture in AD, provisioning tenants, and users, managing and isolating address books and DLs, etc. However, some features for instance will move up the stack to be built into the control panel tier, like cross product provisioning, or resource management. To put it in the HMC terms, the Providers layer and some of the Managed Layer will be built into the Exchange 2010 SP1 product itself. Hosted layer and those logic, Microsoft will leave that pretty open for you guys to design and implement.

The rationale behind of this approach and removing this HMC middle layer is reducing the complexity of deployment , management, and overhead, and achieving higher scale and wider support of features that we haven’t considered before.

Here is a quick table summarizing the stuff. Note the highlighted portions are the portions which used to be covered by MPS and now you will need to get a 3rd party control panel to do the job or you have to design those logic yourself. 
[[Steve Miles Comment]] We are already using ‘Ensim Unify’ as the Control Panel and Provisoning Engine in our HMC 4.

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