Microsoft Exchange White Papers from Hosted Exchange Provider

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  • Selecting The Right Hosted Exchange Provider. Things To Know. Questions To Ask
  • Microsoft Exchange Server In-House Or Out-Sourced: What’s Best For You?
  • How To Get Big Business Email At A Small Business Price
  • IT In A Tough Economy: How To Reduce Costs And Increase Productivity
  • Reduce Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Migration Costs And Complexity
  • Premium Email Archiving On A Small Business Budget

Exchange Hosting for January, 2010

Sirana logo

Break out the bubbly! Sirana Software and it’s AppAnalyzer application for Exchange has won the reader’s choice award, capturing 36 percent of the vote. This is made doubly impressive when you see the humble app’s competition. From the company:

“Sirana AppAnalyzer for Exchange (AppAnalyzer) is a reporting and analysis solution that helps e-mail administrators, IT personnel, and Executive managers understand Microsoft Exchange usage. Through an extensive list of pre-defined, automated reports, AppAnalyzer displays comprehensive usage data about your Exchange servers, including message traffic analysis, message delivery times, historical and current mailbox and public folder storage data, client access usage, chargeback information and message content analysis.”

Congrats guys! See you next year. Oh, and click here for more information on the vote.

Microsoft Tech-Ed

Microsoft has announced details for the 2010 iteration of it’s yearly Tech-Ed conference. These conferences are really a great opportunity to get some hands-on with programs you may be a bit wary of. Not to mention the keynotes. Oh, the keynotes.

It all goes down on June 7th - June 10th in New Orleans. Click here for details on how to register. Also, amusingly, the site offers a list of bullet-points to give your boss in order to convince them to pick up the tab. Good luck guys and see you at the snack bar!

MS Exchange

Not everything is sunshine and roses in Exchange-land. Renowned SEO expert Kevin Beaver has penned a list of the nine Exchange Server risks you should absolutely not overlook. The list is well written and, more importantly, eye opening. Now, these are not reasons to ignore Exchange Server 2010, rather it’s just a series of cautionary tales. Everyone should be careful, right? Carefulness is next to Godliness, um, or something.

Below is the piece in it’s entirety. You can click here to read in it’s original form.

Traditional Exchange security may have taken a backseat to e-discovery and email retention lately, but that doesn’t mean the risks have disappeared. In any given security assessment I see predictable and serious Exchange Server risks that not only put your organization out of compliance with current regulations but also create some unwanted information security issues.Regardless of the size of your Exchange organization and the risk tolerance of the powers that be, there are nine basic security risks that you can must watch for to keep your Exchange environment secure.

  1. Missing patches — This is the number one culprit I’ve seen that exposes Exchange systems to unnecessary risks. While it’s often assumed that change management processes are being followed and patches are automatically being applied, it’s not unusual for systems — including critical Exchange servers — to somehow fall outside the scope of patching and patch validation. All it takes is a single missing patch for an external attacker or malicious insider to use Metasploit or a similar tool to expose your entire messaging environment.
  2. Flaws in additional software — Many Exchange servers are used for other purposes like file transfer protocol (FTP), network administration and general Web browsing. All of these can introduce weaknesses and broaden an Exchange system’s attack surface. Exchange security add-ins can also create their own issues, as can be seen on the National Vulnerability Database site, a government repository of standards-based vulnerability management data.
  3. OWA weaknesses — Weak Exchange passwords are easily exploitable via the Web. It only takes one weak password for an attacker to get in, gain access to Exchange public folders and glean other email account names and proceed to crack other users’ passwords.Even with intruder lockout in place, denial of service conditions created by an attacker running a password cracking attack on known accounts can get affect several.
  4. Poor or nonexistent audit logging and monitoring — This is the classic case of overworked network administrators who don’t have a handle on their Exchange, IIS and Windows logs. Logging and monitoring are necessary evils, but you can tame these beasts if you use the proper tools or managed services.
  5. Weak or lax security testing — Often, certain Exchange systems are completely overlooked during in-depth security assessments. Many administrators rely on basic security scans rather than in-depth assessments. But these can create a false sense of security.Exchange systems are also excluded from internal security assessments. I’ve found that Exchange servers tend to be sitting ducks on the Internet; you can’t overlook the trusted users who have greater access to the Exchange environment via their direct network connections.
  6. Lack of integration with the organization’s contingency plans — Administrators tend to overlook incident response and disaster recovery plans until a breach occurs. Even when these plans do exist, it’s rare that the Exchange messaging system is included. Considering how much we depend on email availability for business, overlooking this issue sets everyone up for failure.
  7. Minimal content filtering and employee monitoring — For some reason, I don’t see a lot of content filtering rules configured in Exchange, nor do I see many companies using third-party solutions to get inappropriate content and data leakage under control. Often when content filtering or some form of employee monitoring technologies are present, they’re often placed in the hands of the network admin for sole judge/jury/executioner control, which is not ideal.
  8. Underlying OS weaknesses — As much as we like to focus on specific applications, we often overlook the very foundation upon which they run — Windows OS. Weak file/share permissions, weak passwords and missing patches are just a few of the ways that the underlying OS can be exploited to gain access to the messaging environment.
  9. Lack of malware protection — It’s often assumed that malware protection at the desktop or network perimeter is all that’s needed. Although anti-virus software can bog down system performance, you still don’t want to exclude protection of the Exchange server itself. With malware capable of bringing your network to its knees and the fact that existing solutions are seemingly incapable of catching/preventing everything, it’s not a bad idea to have protection at the perimeter, on the Exchange server, and at the desktop level.

It’s easy to seek out the technical shortcomings related to managing Exchange risks, but you absolutely need to consider the operational issues as well. Both issues go to back to the fact that messaging and Exchange often fall outside the scope of security policies. Even though email security isn’t considered as sexy as other security issues going on these days, a focused approach on managing Exchange risks is still a necessity.”

Microsoft Logo

Microsoft and their colleagues at Technet have readied a round of new product demos. They focus on Exchange Server 2010 and the productivity increase that should be experienced when you make the upgrade leap. But why believe me? Here it is in their own words:

The Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 demonstrations showcase core business pillars for Anywhere Access, Protection and Compliance, and Flexible and Reliable solutions. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 enables you to achieve new levels of reliability and performance by delivering features that simplify your administration, help protect your communications, and delight your users by meeting their demands for greater business mobility. This latest release of Exchange can help your customers achieve better business outcomes while controlling the costs of deployment, administration, and compliance. Demonstrate to customers how Exchange 2010 along with your services and solutions can solve critical business problems.”

Click here to get started and watching this rather interesting demo showcase.

TechRepublic logo

Those feisty writers over at the esteemed TechRepublic have concocted a list of their favorite ten new features that are available in Exchange Server 2010. It’s an interesting read. Check out the list on their site here, or read below for a full transcript. Let’s hear it for multi-mailbox search!

“1: Legal hold
Over the last several years, it has become increasingly more common for an organisation’s email messages to be subpoenaed as part of the litigation process. The problem is that email is dynamic in nature. Messages are constantly being sent, received and deleted. Likewise, messages in the archives are often set to expire after a specific length of time. All of these factors have made it difficult to comply with litigation-related message retention requirements.

Exchange 2010 offers a new legal hold feature. This feature allows you to preserve the contents of an Exchange mailbox. Users can still use their mailbox in the usual manner, but copies of all items are retained, even if they delete them or if archived content would otherwise have expired.

2: Multi mailbox search
A complementary feature to legal hold is the new multi mailbox search feature. This feature makes it a lot easier for organisations to perform e-discovery. As the name implies, multi mailbox search allows a designated person to perform organisation-level searches across users’ mailboxes. The search interface is designed to allow administrators to search for multiple keywords or phrases simultaneously.

3: Exchange Control Panel
The Exchange Control Panel is a new management tool built into Exchange 2010. While the Exchange Control Panel isn’t designed to take the place of the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell, it is definitely a welcome addition.

The Exchange Control Panel is integrated into OWA. It allows users to perform a few basic self-service tasks, such as changing their contact information. For administrators, the Exchange Control Panel provides a way of performing some of the more common management tasks remotely using a web interface.

4: Database availability groups
Exchange 2007 provided several high availability features, such as Cluster Continuous Replication. Exchange 2010 takes things a step further with database availability groups. Database availability groups allow you to designate multiple servers to host copies of individual databases. In the event of a failure, Exchange can automatically recover. Databases are no longer server specific, so you are free to mix and match the database replicas that are hosted on each mailbox server.

5: Database-level failover
In previous Exchange Server cluster implementations, a failure required an entire cluster node to fail over. This meant that if a server was hosting multiple databases, and the disks associated with a single database were to fail, the entire server would have to fail over — which would be disruptive to users whose mailboxes weren’t even stored on the failed disks.

In contrast, Exchange 2010 supports database-level fail over. That way, if a failure affects only a single database, that database can fail over without disrupting the other databases on the server.

6: Voice mail transcription
In Exchange 2007, the unified messaging feature caused voice mail messages to be saved as email message attachments. While that seemed to work out fine most of the time, it did sometimes make life difficult for road warriors who didn’t always have the ability to play the message.

Exchange 2010 uses a speech recognition engine to automatically transcribe voice mail messages. Users still receive the voice message as an email attachment, but the email message also contains a written transcript of the voice message. Users can check their voice messages even when they don’t have access to a sound card. More important, the transcription feature allows the contents of voice messages to be indexed along with traditional email messages.

7: Call answering rules
In Exchange 2007, the auto attendant provides voice prompt menus for the organisation’s primary phone number. For example, an auto attendant might be used to ask callers to press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish and then route calls accordingly. In Exchange 2007, the auto attendant is an organisation level feature.

In Exchange 2010, though, each user has his or her own personal auto attendant, which Microsoft refers to as the Call Answering Rules feature. Call answering rules allow users to create their own call routing options. So, for instance, an important call might be forwarded to a user’s mobile phone, while a less important call might go straight to voice mail.

8: Personal archive
In Exchange 2010, each user can now have two mailboxes — a primary mailbox and an archive mailbox. By using an archive mailbox, users can keep their primary mailboxes uncluttered. They’re free to browse their archive mailbox at will, and items can be automatically moved from their primary mailbox to their archive mailbox using retention policies.

9: Retention policies
Retention policies allow messages to be tagged in a way that reflects their useful lifespan and what should happen when they expire. For example, you could specify that items in one folder should be deleted after 30 days, while items in another folder should be moved to the archives after five years. Users can also apply retention policies to individual messages that are separate from folder-level policies.

10: Role-based access control
Exchange 2010 uses a new access control model called role-based access control. Now, administrators can perform delegation based on the role that the delegate will be performing. This means that rather than guessing which permissions the delegate will need, the administrator can simply tell Exchange which tasks the delegate will be performing.”


Posted by Lawrence Bonk as Help Center, Microsoft, News, Tools

Microsoft logo

The guys and gals at Technet crank out useful webcasts faster than I crank slices of pizza into my gullet. Here comes another one. This one is on email archiving and retention with Exchange Server 2010. Keep in mind this is a 300 level webcast so make sure you are up to snuff before you attempt to tackle it.

The cast goes live on 11 pm Thursday, January 28th. Anytime after that head on over to the website and have a gander. Learning! It’s great.

Microsoft Office

Here is an interesting download for you people out there using Exchange with Office/Sharepoint. Download here. Below is a description:

“This download contains a two Virtual Machine set for evaluating and demonstrating Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Virtual machine contains the following pre-configured software: 1. Windows Server 2008 SP2 Standard Edition x64, running as an Active Directory Domain Controller for the CONTOSO.COM domain with DNS and WINS 2. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 SP2 Enterprise Edition with Analysis, Notification, and Reporting Services 3. Microsoft Office Communication Server 2007 R2 4. Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 Ultimate Edition 5. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition Beta 2 6. Microsoft Office Web Applications Beta 2 7. FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 Beta 2 8. Microsoft Project Server 2010 Beta 2 9. Microsoft Office 2010 Beta 2 10. Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 Virtual machine â??bâ?? contains the following pre-configured software: 1. Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Evaluation Edition x64, joined to the CONTOSO.COM domain 2. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Active directory has been preconfigured over 200 demo users with metadata in an organizational structure. All of these user profiles have been imported and indexed for search within SharePoint Server 2010, with contoso\administrator granted administrator permissions. SharePoint Server 2010 has been configured in a Complete farm using Kerberos authentication and the default SQL Server 2008 instance for data, and has a site collection created using the Team Site template.”

redmondmag logo

Have you been reading Redmond Magazine? Their slogan is “The independent voice of the Microsoft IT community” and it shows. The current issue is filled to the brim with useful articles for the Exchange nut, including articles on how to secure your datacenter, managing your network and high availability in Exchange Server 2010. Check it out here. Something tells me this is going to lead to a long and fruitful friendship. Aww, you guys!


How can you get a good estimate for sizing my Mailbox Server, Hub Transport, Client Access Server and Storage? Why, that’s a good question, and one that, until recently, was difficult to answer. But no more! Enter the Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator v3.2. This handy dandy download has some nice new sizing capabilities such as the ability to help you size the CAS and Hub Transport server in addition to Mailbox Server and Storage needs. Not bad. It also has a host of other changes to help ease your transition to Exchange Server 2010. Download it here.

Microsoft logo

TechNet strikes again! Microsoft’s helpful little website that could has released yet another videocast. This time, they are tackling a subject near and dear to my heart:  Using the management features of Exchange while inside PowerShell. This can be deceptively difficult at times to maximize both programs. This is a useful video and I even learned a thing or two. You can download it or stream it here.

Microsoft logo

Microsoft and their esteemed TechNet site has released another useful videocast. This time on enabling incoming email by creating an MX record. This can be tricky to some folks so thank the mighty Msoft for breaking it down for us. The video can be streamed or downloaded here. Thanks guys!

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