Exchange 12 “CmdLets” Make Management Easier; Developers Still Have Good Opportunities

One part of the Exchange 12 API (application programming interface) announcement at the Professional Developer’s Conference was that the administration APIs for Exchange would be based on “CmdLets.” CmdLets are application interfaces built on Microsoft’s Monad technology. A benefit of CmdLets is that previously difficult management tasks, such as creating a mailbox, can now be trivially implemented with a single line of script. Presumably, Exchange administrators with little programming experience could build basic systems just by using simple CmdLet statements.

If building management tools for Exchange becomes so much easier, what does that mean for developers of third-party ISV applications? Does that make convincing users of the value of their solutions more difficult?

Even though the programming interfaces are becoming more straightforward, developers will still be able to create a market for their products, if they concentrate on solving real problems and innovating beyond what is easily accomplished with a CmdLet.

An example of this is Lucid8’s GoExchange product (www.lucid8.com).  GoExchange is an automated system maintenance product that detects and repairs Exchange database problems. While GoExchange doesn’t use Exchange 12 CmdLets, it does provide similar functionality to what is available in today’s familiar Exchange tools, ISInteg and ESEUtil. As a solution, it has to add value beyond these tools.

GoExchange has been successful because it provides expert knowledge about how to properly use the tools, preventing users from making mistakes. In addition, the application offers features that end users can’t easily duplicate. For example, GoExchange can begin stopping a maintenance session if it will run longer than administrative policies. Also, GoExchange can provide users with a remote view of the server’s operation, so they can monitor the application’s process without traveling to a server.

The Exchange 12 interfaces will mean that Exchange’s basic functionality will become more approachable for most administrators, who will be able to automate more basic functions. Third-party developers that innovate beyond the basic functionality and deliver unique solutions should continue to find a ready market for their products, even in the Exchange 12 world.

Chris Williams

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