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Enterprise Software Thread, Migrating to Exchange - Experiences in Technical; We have had a bright idea to replace our current mail Server (First Class) with an Exchange server for all ...
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    jonawd's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Migrating to Exchange - Experiences

    We have had a bright idea to replace our current mail Server (First Class) with an Exchange server for all our Staff and Pupils (1500 users)

    Just wondering what experiences people have had with a completely fresh exchange setup and if anyone has any Hint and Tips for the first time admin.

    Also, if any one can recommend any training courses for exchange, we'd love to hear it.


    Ta.

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    Go with live@edu or google@edu save you loads

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    We also use FirstClass and although I don't think theres anything wrong with the product we feel the time is right to move onto something new. Staff use of e-mail is a huge communication tool and I think I would need to be in a position to migrate existing mail to the Exchange server.

    If you do embark on the migration to Exchange, i'd be interested to hear how you got on.

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    Domino's Avatar
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    I moved from RM easymail to Exchange 2k3 at a school I was at about 6 years ago.

    Relatively straightforward, just give yourself the time to get things right
    Buy the hardware and software soon as- run through the deployment guides and get your setup right.

    Copy out all the old mail from the old system - or just give people access to it internally only to copy out what they need (but make sure you have a cut-off point set in stone ;-) )

    Make sure your mail presentation is correct for exchange and get your external certs sorted.

    Another good thing is to let people know what benefits they'll receive from an internal exchange system, then they know theres a reason for the change, not just for the hell of it.

    Basically its all in the planning and testing, the actual execution should be straightforward

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    zag
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    Much better to go with a cloud system now they've become main stream. Takes away a lot of the hassle.

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    I've been running Exchange for years and been very happy with it. What I can say I guess might sound a bit woolly rather than being "techie" help but I think is still important:

    Firstly - be very clear about your objectives - Exchange is a "big" product, and if you're looking to implement it and then *only* use email then, to be honest, save your money and effort.

    Secondly - Hardware: Exchange is a "big" product as I say so you need to implement it whole-heartedly; planning to do it for both staff and students is a start in my book, but you need to also think about hardware - we run exchange for our college on two servers, with the mailbox store on a dedicated box with about 24Gb of ram and another box holding the CAS and Hub roles on another box... and I consider this the minimum that I'd be happy to run Exchange on (I'd consider another mailbox store for high availability, are you considering an Edge server?). This requires a fair amount of commitment to funding this hardware, and at least two exchange licences for a start.

    The CAS/HUB role will need decent multi-core processing capability, especially depending on the amount of connections you expect it to handle, email you expect to shift, any extra tasks you assign to this box, etc), SSL certificates, availability for mobile device support, etc.

    The database role will need planning too - the traditional exchange model calls for a couple of RAID spindles - both the database store itself and the log files need slightly different planning. This changes somewhat with both virtualisation and Exchange 2010's re-modelling of the information stores, but it still requires careful thought about what you're trying to do and a deployment that keeps this in mind.

    You should consider outsourcing your mail to 'the cloud' as has already been suggested; as much as I'm a big fan of Exchange, i'd consider live or gmail if I was implementing a greenfield email system for a school or college right now. However, you need to consider how email is used. Will it mainly be used internally (staff and students mailing each other)? Or externally (users emailing people outside the organisation)?

    If you're using it for internal use only, which I suspect is what most educational use is, then you need to consider the one weakness of outsourcing is that if your internet connection is unavailable then you lose access to your email, whereas you can keep using email with the internet connection down if the system is local. This isn't such a big deal for people who use it for external use, because if their internet connection is down then they can't email the people they need to either way. Having said that, if the internet connection is really reliable then this isn't such a big problem.

    As for other considerations about implementing Exchange - don't install it on a domain controller or you will regret it. Keep in mind that you will need to extend the schema of the domain/forest. This is well documented in the install steps, which you should follow carefully and understand before you even think about running the setup program.

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    @jonawd:

    Was gonna add my two cents, but Domino and Roberto have pretty much said what I would. Good advice right there.

    While I cant go giving out too much details as to what I have setup here, I'll just say that our avg mailbox size is 1.1GB and that I have the benefit of running it fully [minus the UM server] on VMware ESX hosts (clustered) combo'd with EqualLogic Storage

    P.S. If your going to go Exchange 2010 and your going to be importing PST's, ensure that if you are going to run SP1, that you update Exchange and teh servers fully aka Rollup Update 2 (currently) as that has a fix for importing.

    Cheers

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    I would assume your best bet is to export them to PSTs. As for the training, I suggest doing some reading online befoe you take classes.

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