From my experience, good things cost money. I'm not saying that cheaper alternatives won't do the job, but there is no comparison with Microsoft Exchange.
You will learn a great deal from building and deploying an exchange server at your school. It's also adds value to your personal CV as so many organisations use it.
Obviously this is just my opinion. If you are running on a tight budget (like a lot of schools), it would be foolish not to consider the other options.
I haven't used exchange for a couple of years so this may not be true any longer. It used to lack a connection to pop3 servers and there was no ability for a global address book, shared folders, calendars, etc. To connect to pop3 and use groupware, third party add-ons were required, and probably still are. This may or may not be an issue to you. It was to us (a showstopper) so Exchange was off the menu.
2. They are still around in exch 2010 as they have been with previous version and still be in in the next version of exch.
3. There are too many customers who are using PF for them to be removed from exch.
4. When exch 2007 was going to be launched, the rumors were PF will be removed, however they were still there, then it was tried again to move PF in exch 2010, hoping customers had moved to SP, but they hadnt. Again, it was still there in 2010.
5. I actually worked for one of the customer who heavily used PF and was one of the many which influenced this decision along with other similar cstomers.
6. Over 120,000 seats, in the private/public sector, that al of money for MSFT, multipl that by that by similar sized companies, would impact MSFT if they were to move away.
Microsoft are reducing functionality with each version in order to encourage users to use SP. Public folders were great in 2003, and not so great in 2010. Lets just say, they won't be around forever.
Anyway, sorry for hijacking the thread. Back on topic.
You can download a 30 day trial of Exchange 2010. Give it a go, I'm sure you'll love it.
Exchange is very easy to setup and run except when it goes wrong it can be very fiddly and a pain in the backside to get working again!
Plus can be resource hungry. I have around 900 mailboxes on a VM with 10GB of ram though - the other physical box has slightly less at around 700 mailboxes and 8gb Ram.
Both run happily though.
I think this one is more relevant to a clean build.
Absolutly, but I figure you might as well either hire someone who knows how to set up your own email server or simply pay for a service where it all just happens for you instead of paying for an email server and then paying again for someone to run it.From my experience, good things cost money.
Have a look at Live@Edu and see if it meets your needs - it cuts out a large amount of the headache of looking after exchange and is free to schools.
Gardinho (30th June 2011)
It's an interesting debate, I'm sure there are benefits and arguments for both. All I can say is that we have been running an internal exchange server here for 7 years (100% uptime, might I add). The staff here utilise and enjoy nearly all of the features.
For the benefit of the original poster, could someone with experience of a different email service please list some pros to their product of choice? All I can think of is the cost and the responsibility of managing the school email system.
I have Exchange 2010. It took some careful going over of the docs to get installed, but it installed perfectly with no hassles. Since then (18 months ago) I have had very few issues with it and have barely had to touch it apart from some tinkering with the spam filter settings and adding new users. The only issues I did have were with installing one of the hotfix rollups, which didn't install correctly because Microsoft give out incomplete instructions.
Personally, I would still look seriously at a cloud solution. The only reason I haven't switched is because the vast majority of our staff email is sending attachments to one another, and I don't want our Internet connection (which is not a leased line) to be continually tied up with traffic that doesn't actually need to leave the site at all. If you're determined to have Exchange, definitely look at Live@edu. It doesn't entirely remove the need for on-premises servers because you need a server to handle the account and password sync, but it does remove the need for a lot of storage for the mailboxes (and backup for them). If you're not hell-bent on Exchange, there is still much to be said for Google Apps, despite the Live@edu fanbase here.
Gardinho (29th June 2011)
Live@edu on cloud computing looks great. I'd definitely consider that. Is that going to be replaced by Office 365?
Yes, or rather in principle they will be migrated to "Office365 for Education" at some date I haven't heard yet (and wouldn't trust in any case).
Depends on your requirements i.e. exactly what you want to set up, but provided that's not too special and you treat your Exchange boxes with respect i.e. not for anything else at all, they tend to just work.Exchange is very easy to setup and run except when it goes wrong it can be very fiddly and a pain in the backside to get working again!
The very real, significant problem with that is that owing to lack of practice and familiarity with the underlying technology/tools a lots of techs haven't got a clue what to do if theirs breaks.... keeps me in work I suppose, but I don't really need it on top of everything else and those lengthy DB scanning/fixing resolutions are a bit of a pain.
Back in the day when Exchange was more sensitive and there were very few books/guides, what seemed like half of the MS book I had was about disaster recovery... how you should practice this and that on your lab bench etc. There was a point to that and it hasn't gone away.
If you have got Exchange then: How patched is it? Is it on a decent UPS? Are the UPS settings sensible e.g. allow for how long it takes to shut down gracefully and don't try to start it up again until there enough battery oomph for the normal startup time and another graceful shutdown (plus wriggle room)? When was it last backed up? Have you verified, as in actually tried from start to finish, restoring a DB to recovery storage with your current backup s/w?
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