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Windows Thread, Exchange in Technical; Hi all, I am currently in the process of putting a document together for slt on the pro's and con's ...
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    Exchange

    Hi all,

    I am currently in the process of putting a document together for slt on the pro's and con's of going to exchange from inty (our current email provider).

    Could you please give me some of your experiance both posative and negative to help me do this.

    thanks on advasnced

    loopy

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    Re: Exchange

    Pro: You don't have to wait around for someone else to make changes.

    Pro: You get all the things in the MS feature list. Obviously mail, but public calenders folders and delegation of right to mailboxes seem to be popluar e.g. so admin staff can clear the junk out of mailbox and/reply on behalf of Head etc. It gives everso important people with PDAs something to do with them. You can (don't have to) do things like connect with Outlook and PDAs from home.

    Con: If it's broke, you have to fix it. XCHG 2K3 is quite solid and tend to just chug along, but life can get difficult if it does break (steep learning curve, and quite a few things are best figured out before a potential disaster).

    Temporal Con: We're in in an awkward inbetween phase. E2K7 is out, but is missing some features you will want (SP1 has them, might be RTM'd early Nov). And because E2K7 is still relatively new there is nowhere near as much useful information to be Googled compared with E2K3. You also need to factor in X64 e.g. will that break anything else you want to put on the Exchange box?

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    maniac's Avatar
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    Re: Exchange

    CON: You'll probably have to buy a plugin for your backup solution to backup the mailboxes properly. This can cost a few £££s

    PRO: If you use outlook webacces, then user authentication is transparent, nice and easy solution if you intend to use it for your students.

    CON: it can be resource hungry, so you will need a well speced server to run it on.

    PRO: Mailboxes are created through Active directory, so it attaches the e-mail address to the username. This means you can easily use windows server features that e-mail users. e.g quotaing.

    Mike.

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    Re: Exchange

    How much are the cals for exchange per user?

    If say you have 1800 pupils that you wish to access exchange from home then how much would it cost?

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    Re: Exchange

    Have you considered an Opensource solution on a Linux box, I am sure Webman or Geoff will suggest something.

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    Re: Exchange

    CON: It's expensive. Initial cost + CALs

    CON: If it doesn't do something you want OOTB, third-party tools to do the job will probably cost (if it's even possible to do said task).

    CON: It's properietary - if you choose to migrate to a better platform in the future things could get tricky. Also some of it's "standards" implementations are broken.

    CON: It breaks. A lot. This forum is full of issues.

    Taking those into consideration - Zimbra, Scalix and Open-Xchange are more than up to the job of being MSExchange replacements; but have none of the mentioned pitfalls that MSexchange does, have better features and cost a lot less (eg. no software cost, no CALs).

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    maniac's Avatar
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    Re: Exchange

    While I agree with most of your points webman, The last one I can't. Exchange in my opinion is very reliable, I've been running one several years, and it's still performs flawlessly day in day out, and besides ocassional maintenance and housekeeping on it, I hardly have to touch it.

    However, it can be complex to setup and if things do go wrong then it can be complex to sort out.

    Also on the cost front, if you are a MS volume Licensing customer then it's very cheap to add it onto your agreement.

    Mike.

    I'm not dissing your options by the way webman, if it were my choice where I worked, then I would definitley be considering alturnatives.

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    webman's Avatar
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    Re: Exchange

    No offence taken maniac

    Thankfully I've never actually had the displeasure of managing an Exchange setup, but I've been a user of one and know people who manage them; so I'm just going off what I hear and read and experience as a user.

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    Re: Exchange

    Pro: Have to agree with Maniac, I've had E2k3 running for a few years now with about 300 accounts (haven't setup for years 7-11 only staff and 6 form), and (touch wood) have had no issues with it. IIRC it wasn't too expensive for the server (I think we had it under select), the CALS were something like a £1 each.

    Pro: Once exchange is installed to create a mailbox is as easy as adding the Exchange admin tools (if you want to work from your PC) and right clicking on the user(s) accounts and selecting create mailbox.

    Con: If the install screws up it can mean a complete O/S install (certainly with E2k3 it did!), fortunately for me it was only during the testing phase I found this out!

    You need to make sure that DNS is working properly or you will have issues (goes without saying it should be running properly anyway!)

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    Re: Exchange

    We did this two years ago, with great success. Have been running Exchange 2003, with no problems at all. NTbackup will perform a online backup/restore of exchange. So you dont HAVe to buy extra backup software.


    A definate consideration:

    You wont be able to have direct access to the GAL/mailing lists on your county setup. (here we can select all users from other schools/departments in the authority)

    What I did was keep an account with the county setup and use a third party utility to export the GAL to a file, and then use a custom VB script to import into AD as contacts. This then allows you to construct something that is pretty similar to the original county GAL.

    There are also considerations on how you currently use shared calendars. what I did was migrate calendars to public ones with assigned permissions.
    THis was fine except for:

    1) Microsoft are getting rid of public calendars in favour of sharepoint in the newer exchange versions

    2) Its not easy to syncronise a public calendar to a PDA without third party software (LapLink etc)

    Other than those issues it has been extremely successful.

    I am using JEPS for greylisting, and this has completely sorted out the spam issues we were having. I simply add the county address host to the whitelist and everything else has to resend.

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    Re: Exchange

    I use Exc 2003 and love it, never gone wrong in the 3 years I've been managing it, use it at home no issues either. Plenty of easy info and guides to it on the web, very happy with it and ties in lovely with Active Directory.

    You do need a good server though, don't under-spec if, go for the big over kill on this, fine you may think 1gb ram enough, stuff it to the max, 4gb it up as you can never have enough ram for it, especially if you use a lot of Web Access.

    Oh and Scalix is Evil, end of, the LEA use that and I am so fed up of hearing about it I don't want to know any more about it.

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    Re: Exchange

    are more than up to the job of being MSExchange
    I'd really like that to be true but I'm not convinced. Looking at Zimbra for instance, I get the impression you have to pay annually if you want to match the Exchange features. Am I imagining that?

    some of it's "standards" implementations are broken
    Someone from MS seems to have been an author on every other RFC since the late 90s so I'm genuinely interested. Which ones & how?

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    Re: Exchange

    It depends which Exchange features you mean. We find Zimbra is more than adequate for what we need. The same cannot be said for everyone as establishment needs differ.

    I can't remember exactly but this springs to mind.

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    Re: Exchange

    thanks guys for the info.

    we are currently looking to exchange 2007 but you say it is missing features. could you list some of the features missing.

    the server i am planning on will have 8 cores and 16gb of ram. i am over doing it totally as i want loads of room for some other changes i intend to do at a later date.

    the system will also be used for approximatly 1400 users.

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    Re: Exchange

    Other changes? If you are going for a high spec server because you want to run exchange now and other things later I would suggest that you reconsider. I really would try to run only exchange on it and no other services, Ideally it won't be a DC or anything else. I also wouldn't use an exchange box as a file server if thats why you want lots of space.

    I think dual or quad core will be fine, 4 or 8GB ram too.

    Exchange works well here, but it will be a bumpy ride if it goes wrong.

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