Microsoft have released the Hosting Deployment Guide for Exchange Server 2010 SP1 which is the first of many services to break away from the HMC and MPS deployment and provisioning model. Multi-tenant capabilities are now built directly in to AD and Exchange, although there are some limitations such as the removal of public folders and no access to ECP for tenant organisations.
Despite some limitations this is the product many hosters and carriers have been waiting for, as until Exchange Server 2010 SP1 Microsoft have not provided guidance or support for multi-tenant Exchange Server 2010. The really good news for me is this opens up the doors to more complex cross-premise deployments where the customer has Exchange in-house and in the Cloud(s).
A couple of warnings about the /hosting install. 1. You must deploy in a new forest where Exchange Server has not been installed previously. 2. There is no GUI for /hosting you must install form command line using setup.com /hosting and manage the service through Powershell. This makes sense as the current Exchange GUI won’t display multi-tenant organisations in a hierarchy and it also prevents simple changes being made outside of automated provisioning 3. Resource forest type scenarios still has limitations.
If you are interested head to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=a0965fc9-2723-4947-ae6b-74bc3808e72a&displaylang=en to download SP1, remember to use setup.com /hosting.
While that is installing start reading through the guidance provided here, http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=bba88fb5-9d84-475c-85d7-3ffeb308636e.
I have been testing /hosting in the lab for a few months now and we still have a journey to complete before /hosting will make it in to the Cobweb production platform. I imagine we will start to see the hosting editions, lead by BPOS, gaining new and updated features through regular smaller releases.