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Understanding Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

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Exchange Server 2010 is the evolution of a product that has been continuously improved well over a decade of development. It provides for robust messaging capabilities, in addition to a dizzying array of new functionality. The one area of development that has always been missing in Exchange, however, has been the collaboration and document management capabilities. Attempts to build this functionality in Exchange public folders were short-lived, and Microsoft shifted development of this aspect of Exchange to the SharePoint Products and Technologies line, the subject of this book.

Taking the history of development with Exchange into account, SharePoint 2010 is the collaboration piece of Exchange that has always been missing in the platform. Because of this codependence between the platforms, many Exchange environments are considering deploying SharePoint 2010, and vice versa. Subsequently, an in-depth knowledge of Exchange 2010 is highly useful for SharePoint administrators. This section of this chapter focuses on a high-level overview of what Exchange 2010 is and how it fits in within a SharePoint 2010 environment.

Outlining the Significant Changes in Exchange Server 2010

The major areas of improvement in Exchange Server 2010 have focuses on several key areas. The first is in the realm of user access and connectivity. The needs of many organizations have changed, and they are no longer content with slow remote access to email and limited functionality when on the road. Consequently, many of the improvements in Exchange focus on various approaches to email access and connectivity. The improvements in this group focus on the following areas:

  • “Access anywhere” improvements— Microsoft has focused a great deal of Exchange Server 2010 development time on new access methods for Exchange, including an enhanced OWA that works with a variety of Microsoft and third-party browsers, Outlook Mobile improvements, new Outlook Voice Access (OVA), Unified Messaging support, and Outlook Anywhere (formerly known as RPC over HTTP). Having these multiple access methods greatly increases the design flexibility of Exchange because end users can access email via multiple methods.

  • Protection and compliance enhancements— Exchange Server 2010 now includes a variety of antispam, antivirus, and compliance mechanisms to protect the integrity of messaging data. These mechanisms are useful to protect SharePoint email-enabled content from viruses and spam, as well.

  • Admin tools improvements and PowerShell scripting— The administrative environment in Exchange 2010 has been completely revamped and improved, and the scripting capabilities have been overhauled. It is now possible to script any administrative command from a command-line MONAD script. Indeed, the GUI itself sits on top of the PowerShell scripting engine and simply fires scripts based on the task that an administrator chooses in the GUI. This allows for an unprecedented level of control.

  • Database Availability Groups (DAGs)— One of the most anticipated improvements to Exchange Server has been the inclusion of the concept of database availability groups. These technologies allow for “log shipping” functionality for Exchange databases, allowing for up to 16 replica copies of an Exchange database to be constantly built from new logs generated from the server. This enables administrators to replicate in real time the data from a server to another server in a remote site or locally on the same server.

Outlining Exchange Server 2010 Server Roles

Exchange Server 2010 continued the concept of server roles for Exchange servers that were introduced with Exchange Server 2007. In the past, server functionality was loosely termed, such as referring to an Exchange Server as an OWA or front-end server, bridgehead server, or a mailbox or back-end server. In reality, there was no “set” terminology that was used for Exchange server roles. Exchange Server 2010, on the other hand, distinctly defines specific roles that a server can hold. Multiple roles can reside on a single server, or there can be multiple servers with the same role. By standardizing on these roles, it becomes easier to design an Exchange environment by designating specific roles for servers in specific locations.

The concept of server roles is not unique to Exchange, but is also included as a concept for SharePoint servers, as well, with roles such as search and index, web, database, Excel Services, and the like driving design decisions for SharePoint.

The server roles included in Exchange Server 2010 include the following:

  • Client Access Server— The Client Access Server (CAS) in Exchange 2010 is used for all client traffic, including standard MAPI traffic. In this version of Exchange, all client communications is routed through the CAS tier, and the CAS servers communicate directly with the Exchange mailbox servers. The CAS servers also handle Outlook Web Access (OWA), Exchange ActiveSync, POP3, and IMAP traffic. CAS servers are the replacement for Exchange 2000/2003 front-end servers and can be load balanced for redundancy purposes. As with the other server roles, the CAS role can coexist with other roles for smaller organizations with a single server, for example.

  • Edge transport server— The edge transport server role is unique to Exchange 2007/2010, and consists of a standalone server that typically resides in the DMZ of a firewall. This server filters inbound SMTP mail traffic from the Internet for viruses and spam, and then forwards it to internal hub transport servers. Edge transport servers keep a local Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) instance that is synchronized with the internal AD structure via a mechanism called EdgeSync. This helps to reduce the surface attack area of Exchange.

  • Hub transport server— The hub transport server role acts as a mail relay for all messages sent and received in Exchange, including messages sent between recipients on the same server. The hub transport role is also used for policy enforcement via hub transport policies. There can also be multiple hub transport servers to provide for redundancy and load balancing.

  • Mailbox server— The mailbox server role is intuitive; it acts as the storehouse for mail data in user’s mailboxes and down-level public folders if required. The mailbox servers can be configured with DAG replicas to provide for both high availability and disaster recovery of the mail data.

  • Unified messaging server— The unified messaging server role is new in Exchange 2007/2010 and allows a user’s inbox to be used for voice messaging and fax capabilities.

Any or all of these roles can be installed on a single server or on multiple servers. For smaller organizations, a single server holding all Exchange roles is sufficient. For larger organizations, a more complex configuration may be required.

Other  
  •  Working with Email-Enabled Content in SharePoint 2010
  •  Enabling Incoming Email Functionality in SharePoint
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Using Outlook 2007 (part 3) - Using Group Schedules
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Using Outlook 2007 (part 2) - Sharing Information with Users Outside the Company
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Using Outlook 2007 (part 1)
  •  Implementing and Validating SharePoint 2010 Security : Using IPsec for Internal SharePoint Encryption
  •  Examining Integration Points Between SharePoint and Public Key Infrastructure
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Deploying Outlook 2007
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Implementing Outlook Anywhere
  •  Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Security Enhancements in Outlook 2007
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