Understanding Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

Get an overview of the new collaboration features and server roles in Exchange Server 2007 and learn how they improve integration with SharePoint Server 2007.

You are reading tip #3 from "6 tips in 6 minutes: Integrating SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange 2007," excerpted from Chapter 18 of the book "Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed," by Michael Noel and Colin Spence, copyright 2007, published by Sams.
Exchange Server 2007 is the evolution of a product that has been continuously improved by more than a decade of development. It has robust messaging capabilities, in addition to a dizzying array of new functionality. The one area of development that has always been missing in Exchange, however, has been the collaboration and document management capabilities. Attempts to build this functionality in Exchange public folders were short-lived, and Microsoft shifted development of this aspect of Exchange to the SharePoint products and technologies that are the subject of this book.

Taking the history of development with Exchange into account, SharePoint 2007 is the collaboration piece of Exchange that has always been missing in the platform. Because of this codependence between the platforms, many Exchange environments are considering deploying SharePoint 2007, and vice versa. Subsequently, an in-depth knowledge of Exchange 2007 is highly useful for SharePoint administrators. This section of this chapter focuses on a high-level overview of what Exchange 2007 is and how it fits within a SharePoint 2007 environment.

Outlining the Significant Changes in Exchange Server 2007

The major areas of improvement in Exchange Server 2007 are focused on several key areas. The first is in the realm of user access and connectivity. The needs of many organizations have changed and they are no longer content with slow remote access to email and limited functionality when on the road. Consequently, many of the improvements in Exchange focus on various approaches to email access and connectivity. The improvements in this group focus on the following areas:

  • Access anywhere improvements—Microsoft has focused a great deal of Exchange Server 2007 development time on new access methods for Exchange, including an enhanced Outlook Web Access (OWA) that works with a variety of MS and third-party browsers, Outlook Mobile improvements, new Outlook Voice Access (OVA), Unified Messaging support, and Outlook Anywhere (formerly known as RPC over HTTP). Having these multiple access methods greatly increases the design flexibility of Exchange, as end users can access email via multiple methods.
  • Protection and compliance enhancements—Exchange Server 2007 now includes a variety of antispam, antivirus, and compliance mechanisms to protect the integrity of messaging data. These mechanisms are also useful for protecting SharePoint email-enabled content from viruses and spam.
  • Admin tools improvements and PowerShell scripting—The administrative environment in Exchange 2007 has been completely revamped and improved, and the scripting capabilities have been overhauled. It is now possible to script any administrative command from a command-line MONAD script. Indeed, the GUI itself sits on top of the PowerShell scripting engine and simply fires scripts based on the task that an administrator chooses in the GUI. This allows an unprecedented level of control.
  • Local continuous replication and cluster continuous replication—One of the most anticipated improvements to Exchange Server has been the inclusion of local continuous replication (LCR) and cluster continuous replication (CCR). These technologies allow log-shipping functionality for Exchange databases, allowing a replica copy of an Exchange database to be constantly built from new logs generated from the server. This gives administrators the ability to replicate in real time the data from a server to another server in a remote site or locally on the same server.

Outlining Exchange Server 2007 Server Roles

Exchange Server 2007 introduced the concept of server roles to Exchange terminology. In the past, server functionality was loosely termed, such as referring to an Exchange Server as an OWA or front-end server, bridgehead server, or a mailbox or back-end server. In reality, there was no set terminology that was used for Exchange server roles. Exchange Server 2007, on the other hand, distinctly defines specific roles that a server can hold. Multiple roles can reside on a single server, or there can be multiple servers with the same role. By standardizing on these roles, it becomes easier to design an Exchange environment by designating specific roles for servers in specific locations.

The concept of server roles is not unique to Exchange because it is also included as a concept for SharePoint servers, with roles such as Search and Index, Web, Database, Excel Services, and the like driving design decisions for SharePoint.

The server roles included in Exchange Server 2007 include the following:

  • Client Access Server—The Client Access Server (CAS) role allows client connections via nonstandard methods such as Outlook Web Access (OWA), Exchange ActiveSync, POP3, and IMAP. CAS servers are the replacement for Exchange 2000/2003 front-end servers and can be load balanced for redundancy purposes. As with the other server roles, the CAS role can co-exist with other roles. This is useful for smaller organizations with a single server, for example.
  • Edge Transport Server—The Edge Transport Server role is unique to Exchange 2007, and consists of a standalone server that typically resides in the DMZ of a firewall. This server filters inbound SMTP mail traffic from the Internet for viruses and spam, and then forwards it to internal hub transport servers. Edge transport servers keep a local Active Directory in Application Mode (ADAM) instance that is synchronized with the internal AD structure via a mechanism called EdgeSync. This helps to reduce the surface attack area of Exchange.
  • Hub Transport Server—The Hub Transport Server role acts as a mail bridgehead for mail sent between servers in one AD site and mail sent to other AD sites. At least one multiple hub transport server within an AD site needs to contain a server with the Mailbox Server role, but there can also be multiple hub transport servers to provide redundancy and load balancing.
  • Mailbox Server—The Mailbox Server role is intuitive. It acts as the storehouse for mail data in users' mailboxes and down-level public folders if required. It also directly interacts with Outlook MAPI traffic. All other access methods are proxied through CAS.
  • Unified Messaging Server—The Unified Messaging Server role is new in Exchange 2007 and allows a user's inbox to be used for voice messaging and faxing.

Any or all of these roles can be installed on a single server or on multiple servers. For smaller organizations, a single server holding all Exchange roles is sufficient. For larger organizations, a more complex configuration might be required.


6 TIPS IN 6 MINUTES: INTEGRATING EXCHANGE 2007 AND SHAREPOINT 2007

 Home: Introduction
 Tip 1: Enabling incoming email functionality in SharePoint
 Tip 2: Working with email-enabled content in SharePoint 2007
 Tip 3: Understanding Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
 Tip 4: Planning for an Exchange Server 2007 environment
 Tip 5: Integrating Exchange 2007 with SharePoint 2007
 Tip 6: SharePoint 2007 and Exchange 2007 best practices

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed This chapter excerpt from Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed, by Michael Noel and Colin Spence, is printed with permission from Sams Publishing, Copyright 2007.

Click here for the chapter download or purchase the book here.

This was first published in July 2007

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