There has been a lot of discussions in the Exchange ecosystem (see comments on this post and other posts on our blog for example) about the fact that Windows Server 2008 built-in backup application (Windows Server Backup) is not Exchange-aware. Even though we have also clarified that the limitation does not apply to Windows Small Business Server 2008, we still kept getting a lot of open and honest feedback on the subject, which we greatly appreciate.
About 2 years ago, when the Exchange team started testing Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008, we found that the built-in backup application had changed dramatically. Decisions that drove that change by the Windows team are not the subject of this post, but it is fair to say that the Windows team did not make the decision lightly.
When we evaluated the features of Windows Server Backup, it was clear that the backup and restore experience on Windows 2008 would not be the experience that existing Exchange customers have been used to for so long. Because we had feedback from several customers who told us they would rather get a more full-featured backup solution for their Exchange servers, a decision was made not to provide an Exchange-aware backup solution for Windows 2008 in Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1.
Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1 Ships...
Right after we shipped Service Pack 1, we started hearing from customers who were upset with the fact that they cannot take Exchange-aware online backups with Windows Server Backup. These customers had enjoyed the integration of Exchange and Windows Backup (NTBackup) for many years, and for many versions of Exchange and Windows. We also saw quite a but of discussion activity on this issue in various Exchange communities (this blog, internal discussion groups, MVP and MCT communities, etc.).
We then published a blog post on this issue, which prompted more comments from customers who told us that they were unhappy about this and why.
Now - the next question you have must be:
What are we doing about this?
Although we can't share all of the details now, we thought that this issue was important enough to announce a decision we recently made. We have decided to develop and release a VSS-based plug-in for Windows Server Backup that will enable you to properly backup and restore Exchange 2007 with a built-in Windows 2008 backup application.
While you will be able to backup and restore Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008, you should not expect feature parity with the Windows 2003 NTBackup experience. There will not be the same level granularity and control that NTBackup provides and backups will be limited to the local server only. However, you will be able to perform a VSS backup of Exchange to a separate disc or a network share. If the backup completes successfully, it will (depending on options chosen) truncate Exchange transaction log files, and you'll be able to restore Exchange data when needed.
We will cover all of the details in updated documentation when the time comes. We realize that this may not be an ideal solution for all organizations, but we are quite confident that this is a good solution for many, especially our smaller customer segment.
When can you expect this?
We do not have a release date to announce yet. Our Customer Experience team is working out the details, and because we are still relatively early in this process, we cannot commit to a specific date yet. Rest assured - we'll announce it when it becomes available!
Finally, I think it is in order to thank all of you for all the feedback that you have provided us. As we mentioned before, we want your feedback. We are lucky to have people passionate enough to let us know and explain why what we did was not ideal.