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Exchange 2010 Multi-Tenancy Not for Everyone

by Bill Pray  |  September 10, 2010  |  Comments Off on Exchange 2010 Multi-Tenancy Not for Everyone

It always pays to read the fine print – or the documentation. I recently have spoken with several organizations about their desire to implement the multi-tenancy features of Exchange 2010 so they can create their own private cloud, software-as-a-service offering. This is attractive to organizations looking to setup chargeback models and who have some requirements to separate services and data. Government organizations find this model interesting. For example, the IT organization can separate the legal departments and agencies (using the multi-tenant capabilities) from the other agencies within the government, while still delivering the services in an easier to manage multi-tenant capable environment.

However, I don’t think that Microsoft planned for the multi-tenant features to be used in this way – at least not in the short term. After doing a bit of research, some organizations may need to revisit this idea. On TechNet, Microsoft documentation for Exchange 2010 SP1 states:

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 (emphasis added), 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.

For more information, see Multi-Tenant Support.”

So, what does “most of the features and functionality” mean?

At TechNet, the documentation provides the list:

“What’s not available in Exchange 2010 SP1 Hosting Mode

Exchange 2010 SP1 doesn’t support the following features in Hosting mode:

  • Exchange Management Console
  • Public Folders
  • Unified Messaging Server role
  • GalSync
  • Federation
  • Business-to-Business features such as cross-premises message tracking and calendar sharing
  • IRM
  • Outlook 2003 support (EnableLegacyOutlook)
  • Edge Transport Server role”

That is a significant list. For most of the organizations I have spoken with, that list rules out using the multi-tenant features and moves them back to implementing separate environments to achieve the desired walls between the users and data of different departments and agencies.

Overall, I expect Microsoft to work on shortening that list in future releases – but, the list may change your design and upgrade plans today.

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Category: e-mail  

Tags: e-mail  exchange  exchange-2010  exchange-2010-sp1  groupware  microsoft  microsoft-exchange  microsoft-exchange-server  microsoft-technet  multitenancy  

Bill Pray
Research Director
2 years at Gartner
16 years IT industry

Bill Pray is an analyst in the Collaboration and Content Strategies ITP team. He covers communications and collaboration solutions — e-mail, calendars, instant messaging, and web conferencing…Read Full Bio

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