Mobile messaging enhancements in Exchange Server 2003 SP2

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There are several notable mobile messaging enhancements in Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2. In this tip, I outline those features and explains what they mean for Exchange administrators.

Exchange direct push technology

One of the important additions to Exchange 2003 SP2 is direct push technology, which changes the way mobile clients communicate with your Exchange servers. Exchange direct push uses an HTTP connection to transfer messages and system notifications.

Before Exchange Server 2003 SP2, you could configure your ActiveSync-enabled mobile devices to synchronize with an Exchange Server mailbox at intervals of five minutes or more. Because you couldn't synchronize items at intervals less than five minutes, your devices weren't ever truly up to date. The synchronization sessions also affected network traffic -- even when no data was being transferred.

You could configure mobile clients (Windows Mobile 2003 and smartphones) to use AUTD (Always Up-To-Date), a feature that uses a Short Message Service (SMS) message to notify a mobile device about new messages. But SMS notification is an expensive solution, so Microsoft changed the AUTD function in Exchange 2003 SP2:

  • A standard data plan is the only subscription you need to synchronize with Exchange Server.
  • There is no need to deploy additional infrastructure in your Exchange environment.
  • There is no need for SMS notification or any other "out-of-band" schemes.
  • No special configuration is necessary on the device.

Figure 1: Exchange mobile features

Remote wipe

Remote wipe is another new feature added to Exchange 2003 SP2 that enables administrators and help desk support staff to delete sensitive data from a lost or stolen mobile device. After the remote wipe has been completed, the administrator will receive a notification that the device has been wiped.

It is also possible to centrally enforce settings like password policies and password complexity and timeouts.

Figure 2: Enhanced mobile features

ATTENTION: You must enable the feature "Allow access to devices that do not support password settings" if all of your mobile clients are not Windows Mobile 5.0 clients.

Global Address List Lookup

With Exchange Server 2003 SP2, administrators are able to receive contact properties for users in the Global Address List from your mobile device. You can search for a person based on name, telephone number and much more.

Windows Mobile 5.0 and the Messaging and Security Feature Pack

Windows Mobile 5.0 is an operating system that runs on mobile devices like smartphones and Pocket PCs. To take advantage of the new mobile features in Exchange Server 2003 SP2, you need Windows Mobile 5.0. (In my opinion, this is a disadvantage, since there are only a small number of mobile devices that support Windows Mobile 5.0 at this time.)

The Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack is an extension and update to the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. The feature pack requires a Windows Mobile 5.0 mobile device and Exchange Server 2003 SP2.

Figure 3: Mobile sync process (copied from the Microsoft Exchange SP2 Mobility feature white paper)

Exchange Server ActiveSync Web Administration Tool

The Microsoft Exchange Server ActiveSync Web Administration Tool is designed for use with Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and compatible mobile devices. It enables you to manage lost or stolen mobile devices, and can perform the following actions:

  • View a list of all devices that are being used by your users.
  • Select devices to remotely erase.
  • View the status of pending remote erase requests for each device.
  • Display a transaction log that indicates which administrators have issued remote erase commands.

Figure 4: Exchange ActiveSync Web Administration Tool installation

After installing the Microsoft Exchange Server ActiveSync Web Administration Tool, you can start your favorite Web browser and navigate to https://servername/mobileadmin to remotely wipe a mobile device or display the transaction log.

Figure 5: Exchange ActiveSync Web Administration Tool

About the author: Marc Grote is a MCSA/MCSE Messaging & Security, Microsoft Certified Trainer, and Microsoft MVP for ISA Server. He works as a freelance IT trainer and consultant in the north of Germany and as a part-time employee of Invenate GmbH in Hanover, Germany, consulting on the company's Windows server infrastructure. He specializes in ISA Server, Exchange Server, and security on Windows 2000 and Windows 2003. You can visit his homepage at http://www.it-training-grote.de.

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Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Tip: What Exchange 2003 SP2 means for mobile messaging
  • Tip: The Exchange Server ActiveSync Web Administration Tool
  • Reference Center: Exchange mobile and wireless tips and resources

    This was first published in March 2006

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