Microsoft Exchange Server is one of most strategic products from Microsoft. On a small scale, it's a robust intra-office mail and groupware system, integrating with the other desktop applications. On a larger scale, it's positioned to be the messaging backbone for a large organization. Exchange, in essence, becomes the brain of the mail system. It provides connectivity and management of user accounts for the entire enterprise, as well as for the gateways into legacy mail systems.
In this book, you learn about the following:
What Are the Strategic Features of Exchange?
Exchange has been in development for over two years. Finally out on the shelves of the computer stores, Exchange is a vision into the future of messaging technology. Exchange provides revolutionary functionality at a low end-user cost. Let's review some of these features.
The universal Inbox is not a revolution, it's a reality. No other product has been able to implement this vision. The Inbox is the gateway to information for Exchange users. The Inbox also allows users to access their electronic mail, personal calendar, electronic data interchange, document management and document imaging systems, electronic workflow, electronic forms, outside information stores, and more.
The Inbox is extensible by using the MAPI v1.0 standard published with Exchange. MAPI provides the programming interface that allows applications to leverage the Inbox or other Exchange components.
Exchange is based on two pieces of software[md[the Windows NT operating system and a component of BackOffice. NT supports a domain architecture for directory services. When users log into a domain, their user ID and password are maintained through their entire use of the network. Exchange relies upon the same network user ID and password from the NT domain, which provides a one-time logon to the end users and a one-time account creation for the network administers.
Exchange provides support for server-based rules. Users can configure rules to execute on their Exchange home servers to forward messages to particular individuals, reply with an "out of office" note when appropriate, and message routing to specific folders to ease Inbox organization. The process runs on the Exchange Server and doesn't require a user to be logged in.
The server rules can apply to applications that are leveraging Exchange. Outside information stores, for example, will have a server agent configured from the client. The next time the user logs into the system, the server agent runs to retrieve information for the user.
Numerous features show the MS Office desktop application integration. For example, from every office application you can send the document directly from within the application. The document even can be sent into a public folder.
The Exchange client software also provides a Microsoft Fax application to support faxing directly from an office application. Each toolbar in Exchange allows for customization. The essence of integration is that Exchange maintains the office application standard and extends the Windows desktop operating system. It supports MAPI, TAPI, OLE, right-mouse button use, drag-and-drop editing, Rich text formatting, paste special, and shortcut menus.
From within the office applications, all document routing is handled by the MAPI exchange transport. Another function is the capability to create an e-mail merge directly from the office applications.
Mailbox is an advanced feature for LAN-based mail systems. Mailbox allows users to access multiple information stores from a single network logon, which is customizable from the client or server to support multiple users who are accessing multiple stores simultaneously. The feature is beneficial for managers and their assistants. Managers can configure their information store to allow their assistants to simultaneously access their information store. This capability makes it convenient for managers who are out of town, to allow their assistants to access their mail and forward messages, send replies, and so on. The convenience comes for the assistants, because they can access this information from their own Inbox, without logging onto the network as their manager.
The exchange client is designed to sense line-connection speed and transfer less data over dial-up connections. The exchange client increases the efficiency of the connection. The client software downloads only mail message headers first on a remote connection. Message bodies are downloaded as needed. Additionally, Exchange provides an estimated time to download your request and the capability to schedule a download of your e-mail messages.
Public folders are central repositories of common information. This public folder is a component of the groupware functionality of Exchange. Exchange users can post messages, applications, forms, and so on into the public folders, which are replicated throughout the Exchange enterprise. Rather than sending a mail message out to many users, you can use public folders. A user can post to a folder, and then view the legacy of the original posting. It provides active threading of the messages.
Public folders can be replicated down to the client PC to facilitate off-line creation and reading. Permissions also can be set to restrict access to certain folder contents. The public folder replication is architected to minimize the amount of data to be replicated. Indexes exist to the public folder content. The index is available across the enterprise. Information is replicated from one Exchange public folder server to the next. A set of folders is known as a replica. Exchange manages the public folders replication and replicas.
Exchange is rich with security. The Digital Signature is a means to digital authenticate the user sending the mail message. The security model allows for any user to sign individual messages, based on public and private key RSA encryption. The keys are managed centrally by an Exchange Key server process. This management allows keys to be distributed to individual users from a common server.
An electronic forms developer is included with the Exchange client. From the client, just select the Forms tool and wizard to step you through the creation of a new form. The forms designer is easy enough for end user to create basic forms and powerful enough for developers to create form based applications. The form can be routed to multiple recipients, used to store data locally, or connected to an external data source.
The server-based information message store can be accessed from any client at any point of connection within the enterprise. Multiple clients can simultaneously access the same server message stores.
The Exchange client and server was localized for international use. The message will be transmitted in the native format. For example, someone in the U.S. writes in English, and a recipient in Germany also sees the message in English. The application software is in the native language of German. Exchange will be supported in over 20 languages.
Part of the Exchange client and server is a scheduling and group calendering system: Schedule+. Schedule plus integrates with the Exchange message store on the client and on the server. It combines daily, weekly, and monthly views with a planner and contact manager. The Schedule plus system can be integrated into legacy systems such as Profs Calendar by way of an external Exchange gateway.
Schedule plus allows objects such as audio/video equipment or conference rooms to be scheduled into meetings as resources without creating individual mailboxes for each item.
Schedule plus also includes a reference wizard, named the "Seven Habits Tool." This is a logic tool designed to assist you in time management and task planning with prioritization.
An additional function of Exchange and Schedule plus is the integration with Microsoft Project for time and project management.
This feature allows you to manage the entire Exchange enterprise from one location.
These monitors continually poll the server connectors, services, message stores, and more. They can be configured to either alert an administrator or automatically handle the situation.
Using native Windows NT performance and tuning tools, you can understand the current state of the Exchange processes.
Because Exchange is up and running 24 hours a day and seven days a week, you must be able to back up the system on-line. Exchange allows you to perform on-line back ups without being forced to alert users. For the users, it's business as usual.
Exchange is the only Message Tranfer Agent to support both 1984 and 1988 x.400 standards simultaneously, offering flexibility in designing the Exchange architecture for the enterprise.
Microsoft realizes that many other systems are in use today. Therefore, Microsoft provides all the tools needed to develop and implement a migration from the various competitive mail systems.
Message routing provides multiple routes to transfer mail between servers and connectors. If one link between WAN sites goes down, Exchange has fault-tolerance that is integrated to automatically re-route mail to a secondary route.
The Role of Exchange in the Enterprise
Exchange promises to be the mail system for the enterprise. Exchange can handle directory synchronization of all the legacy mail systems, including most LAN-based mail systems. Exchange leverages the features listed previously to provide a complete messaging solution for the 21st century. Large corporations can use Exchange as a fault-tolerant mail system and take advantage of the universal Inbox to gateway into existing workflow applications, electronic forms, document management systems, electronic data interchange, and much more.
The Future of Exchange
Exchange has been in development for over two years. Finally out on the shelves of the computer stores, Exchange is a vision into the future of messaging technology. Exchange provides revolutionary functionality at a low end-user cost. The future of Exchange includes: close integration with the Web with a WEB Connector to access mail and public folders from a browser; a NNTP or Internet News Connector to post and read Internet newsgroups from the Exchange client; and POP3 or post-office protocol mail support from a POP3 client, accessing Exchange servers. Exchange initially will affect the MS Mail community as a tremendous upgrade. It has been two years, but it's worth the wait.
Who Should Use This Book
This book is aimed at network/system administrators and messaging specialists who are responsible for installing, configuring, and maintaining an Exchange backbone. MIS managers will be interested in using this book as a source of information to understand how to leverage a decision that their corporation makes in deploying Exchange. Areas of interest are electronic forms, application development, scheduling, third-party add-ons and electronic document interchange. Additionally, coverage of application development is included for administrators who need to build custom programs by using the Exchange e-mail and groupware messaging APIs.
How To Use This Book
This book is divided into five sections. The first two sections are intended for a general audience, and the last three sections depend on an understanding of the previous sections.
Part I welcomes you into the world of Microsoft Exchange. As described briefly in the preceding sections, Exchange is a completely revolutionary client/server messaging system. Part I presents a complete overview about how Exchange integrates into and is used in your environment.
Chapter 1, "Overview of Microsoft Exchange," introduces the concepts of working with client/server messaging, groupware, document management, and the universal Inbox. This chapter also highlights many new features available with Microsoft Exchange.
In Chapter 2, "Understanding Exchange's Organization and Sites," you learn about the types of server configurations and Exchange services available in architecting your solution.
Chapter 3, "Exchange's Integrated Server Components," provides a more in-depth look at the wide array of client and server functionality.
Chapter 4, "Integrating with a Windows NT Server," discusses the relationship between Windows NT Server and Exchange. This chapter identifies the integration of Exchange into NT and the dependencies on the NT operating system.
Part II is the core of the book. This collection of six chapters streamlines all of the planning essentials for migrating to or deploying a new Exchange architecture.
Chapter 5, "Designing Exchange Topology," introduces you to the methodology and thought process needed to develop the Exchange architecture. This is an overview chapter for planning requirements.
Chapters 6 through 8 step you through a series of examples and planning guides to deploy Exchange by itself, as a migration from MS Mail, integrating with legacy systems, and planning connections to external mail systems.
Chapters 9 and 10 prepare you to actually install the software in a primarily Windows NT network. Additionally, these chapters discuss the requirements for deploying Exchange in a Novell network environment.
In Part III, you learn how to configure all of the Exchange services, connectors, message transfer agents, links to external systems, public folders, and address routing. This part also focuses on the administration of Exchange. Key elements are creating mail boxes, performance-tuning Exchange servers, security and fault tolerance, and troubleshooting Exchange problems.
Chapters 11 through 14 discuss the core administration setup, configuration, and use of the main components of the Exchange server.
Chapter 15, "Creating and Configuring Recipients," exemplifies how to create a mailbox and NT domain account for an Exchange user, which also includes distribution lists and foreign-mail system custom recipients.
Chapters 16 and 17 walk you through he configuration and setup of public folders. Public folders are the information stores that contain groupware information. This information is then replicated and synchronized through out the Enterprise.
Chapters 18 and 19 go over how to migrate and inter-operate with MS Mail for PC and Macintosh networks. Exchange includes several custom features to support this integration.
Chapters 20 and 21 similarly discuss configurations of the gateway to external mail systems, including x.400 and SMTP recipients.
Chapters 22 through 26 discuss day-to-day operations with Exchange. Various troubleshooting techniques are exemplified. The performance-tuning chapter details how to use a load simulation tool to predict future messaging loads on the servers. This part has a great deal of information. Many sections are used as reference guides.
This part discusses the client components, including client electronic mail, the universal Inbox, and the scheduling or group calendaring application.
Chapters 27 and 28 shows the ways to deploy client software components and the various configuration options. Additionally, it discusses many of the rich set of tools for end-user productivity.
Chapters 29 and 30 discuss the calendaring functions. This again covers software installation and the end-user tools.
Part V presents some other uses for the Exchange architecture.
Chapter 31, "Implementing Third Party Integration Tools," shows the many independent software vendors who are developing solutions to reside on top of Exchange.
Chapter 32, "Using Electronic Document Interchange," discusses how EDI applications can be architected by using the Exchange topology and support for industry standards.
Chapter 33, "Using the Forms Designer," begins to exemplify ways to develop custom forms to replace paper in the enterprise. This chapter discusses many of the programming issues associated with developing these custom forms.
Conventions Used in This Book
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