Exchange under the hood in SBS 2003 (Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book excerpt)

G’day mate – we continue our SBS 2003 journey well into Chapter 6 and take a look at Exchange! As you might know – I am posting up a few pages per day of the SBS 2003 purple book until SBS 2008 ships. Enjoy in good health and wealth.


Harry Brelsfird, ceo at smbnation,


Exchange Under the Hood

Before you trot off believing you know everything there is to know about Exchange, pull up for a moment and read this section on peeking and poking around under the hood. Granted, you’ll likely know some of what is presented below, but perhaps you’ll find a gold nugget along the way that you hadn’t seen in prior sluicing runs.

Okay – What Is Exchange Server 2003?

A good instructor will always encourage even the most basic of questions by promoting a learning culture of “No question is stupid; the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” So it’s fair game to ask, “Exactly what is Exchange Server 2003?”

Back in time, when SBS 4.0 was released in late 1997, the Exchange application was considered to be an e-mail program. It quickly became a popular e-mail program in an era where folks were relatively new to e-mail and all of its wonderfulness. Fast forward a few years-and running around getting excited about e-mail is not only “legacy” but it’s so yesterday! Later on, the marketing message and positioning for Exchange was altered to reflect more noble goals, such as messaging, communications, and collaboration. A contemporary view of Exchange is that it’s a robust message application with collaboration being better handled by SharePoint technologies (which you meet in the next chapter).

To some extent, even the communications tag line is now deemphasized with

the introduction of the Microsoft Real Time Communications server product. But this section isn’t placed here to reiterate what you likely know about Exchange production positioning. Rather, I wanted to weave in a neo-Exchange viewpoint served up by a fellow instructor on an SBS hands-on lab tour in late 2002. This gentlemen proposed the thesis that Exchange is really nothing more than a set of messaging tools and functionality that resides atop Active Directory. Huh? I’ll tease you with this hypothesis herein until the next section, where what appears to be a ridiculous riddle is solved.

Really Managing Exchange

Once installed with SBS 2003 and configured with the EICW, Exchange Server 2003 doesn’t really require you to do much on a day-to-day basis. The damn thing just works! But there are three primary management tools you should know about: the Manage Internet and E-mail page, Exchange Server 2003 System Manager, and the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

Manage Internet and E-mail

First and foremost, you should utilize the Manage Internet and E-mail page, accessed by clicking the Internet and E-mail link under Standard Management in the Server Management console. This page provides numerous links that include forcing a connection to the your ISP to retrieve mail (see the Synchronize E-mail link). Take a moment to look at the options on that page.


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Exchange Server 2003 System Manager

Remember your walk down the Server Console in Chapter 4? Under the Advanced Tasks section, you were exposed to the System Manager tool. It’s shown in expanded view here in Figure 6-3.

Figure 6-3

Like the alluring Venus flytrap plant, Exchange Server 2003 System Manager is fully exposed in its attempt to lure you in deeper and deeper.

When nature calls and you simply have to perform some heavy server-side configuration procedures in Exchange Server 2003, you’ll use System Manager, plain and simple. But it’s not likely that you’ll interact with System Manager on a day-to-day basis.

BEST PRATICE: I’ll weave in very specific and narrow surgical strikes in System Manager in the remaining part of this chapter, so for now simply hop and skip around this tool. Go ahead and dig deep. Drill down into the countless child objects layered in this surprisingly

powerful management tool. Later, when you’re commanded to perform a procedure, your comfort level with System Manager will be high.

Active Directory Users and Computers

Time to solve the riddle from a few minutes ago. The solution set is this: You’re gonna perform most Exchange administration from Active Directory, using tools such as the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. The following tabs are shown on a user property sheet (see Figure 6-4 below as well):

                      Exchange General. This identifies the mailbox store, alias delivery restrictions, delivery options, and storage limits.

                      E-mail Addresses. This lists e-mail addresses associated with this user, including Custom Address, X.400 Address, Microsoft Mail Address, SMTP Address, cc:Mail Address, Lotus Notes Address, and Novell GroupWise Address.

                      Exchange Features. As seen in Figure 6-4, this displays the Mobile Services that are configured plus protocol status information.

                      Exchange Advanced. This provides settings for changing the simple display name, hiding the account from the Exchange address list (more on this later), setting custom attributes, configuring an Internet locator service, and modifying mailbox rights.



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Figure 6-4

The Active Directory user object property sheet showing the Exchange Features tab.

BEST PRACTICE: In the legacy SBS 2000 time frame, you did not see the Exchange Advanced by default on an Active Directory user object property sheet. You had to select Advanced Features under the View menu in Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in for this to appear. Also, the Exchange Features tab in the SBS 2000 time frame was very different and addressed the Instant Messaging configuration. Such is not the case in SBS 2003 (I discuss Instant Messaging later in this section).

While we’re talking about Active Directory, let’s add a little fuel to the fire. Remember that it’s Active Directory providing several forms of critical support to Exchange Server 2003, such as:

                      Active Directory provides a directory of all Exchange objects

                      Exchange uses Active Directory for all authentication and access control


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                      Active Directory provides replication and the Global Catalog (GC). Exchange clients depend on the GC.

                      Exchange makes irreversible Active Directory schema changes. I hinted at this earlier in the chapter with the “1 of 10” setup comment where Exchange was preparing the forest and domain before installing itself.


BEST PRACTICE: While this chapter won’t turn into a book on Exchange, you are, of course, encouraged to read more in books dedicated to Exchange. For example, you should learn more about Active Directory distributions groups. (SBS 2003 creates a default distribution group that includes all added users named after the organization name you typed in the Windows Server 2003 GUI setup phase-for example, Springer Spaniels Limited.) Also, you might be interested in knowing that Active Directory security groups are e-mail enabled, so that if you created a security group titled “Accountants” at our sample company, you could easily send an e-mail message to its membership with the following SMTP e-mail address:

Remember that distribution groups and security groups can be managed via their respective icons under Standard Management in the Server Management console.


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Internet Information Server

Exchange is dependent on Internet Information Server (IIS). IIS provides Web store support. IIS provides support for Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook Mobile Access (OMA). This is shown in Figure 6-5.

Figure 6-5

Viewing the IIS supporting role for Exchange (this is being viewed in the Server Management console).

BEST PRACTICE: Wanna test Exchange’s dependence on IIS? A trick I’ve played in past Microsoft hands-on labs to confound the Doubting Thomases who can’t draw out an Exchange/IIS relationship is the following: Simply turn off the World Wide Web Publishing Service in Services (in the Server Management console, this is under Advanced Management, Computer Management (Local), Services and Applications, Services). Then launch a Web browser (e.g., IE) and try to access OWA. You’ll error out every time with the World Wide Web Publishing Server turned off. Turn this service back on and OWA will work just fine.


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