I’ve been a huge fan of the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant since the beginning. It’s a simple concept that I wish Microsoft teams would pick up and run with for all other solutions (like SharePoint, SQL, System Center, the Active Directory Migration Tool, and others). The Exchange Server Deployment Assistant can be accessed by selecting this link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exdeploy2010/default.aspx#Index
The Exchange Server Deployment Assistant is an excellent way to help persons install Exchange within an on-premises, hybrid and/or cloud only environment. When you start the process you choose the path you are looking to pursue and it presents you with options to help narrow down your needs.
After answering all of the questions, which are basic radio-button selections, it provides you with a step-by-step results display that you can work with on-screen or print. Everything (and more) is mapped out to help you get Exchange up and running for your organization.
Recently, at the MVP Summit in Redmond, I had a chance to speak with the folks responsible for the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant. In addition to commending them for what I feel is an excellent tool, I made a few requests. Apparently my “needs” were similar to thousands of others who wanted more Hybrid information, especially with regard to Exchange Server 2010 SP2. Thanks to the new Hybrid Configuration Wizard in SP2 the process of putting an on-premises Exchange environment in touch with and connected to a cloud-based Office 365 environment is much, much easier.
The “needs” of many were heard and recently the Deployment Assistant was expanded to include Exchange Server 2007 steps. If you go to the default page and click the middle type for Hybrid deployments you will be asked what your current on-premises mail system is. If you select Exchange Server 2007 and answer the questions that follow you will be provided with a very easy to follow step-by-step for establishing that hybrid configuration.
Note: The Exchange 2010 side isn’t complete yet so if you select Exchange 2010 you will be taken to a page that provides information but not step-by-step assistance like what you would hope. Not to worry, the Exchange 2010 side is coming soon.
The Exchange Deployment Assistant is a work in progress. And it is consistently improving as Exchange improves and evolves. It’s one tool that we can all be thankful for.