Five Things About Exchange Server 2007 You Probably Don’t Know (part 3)

OK so my two previous posts were two items from a list of five things. Now please just continue reading here for the ongoing saga about “five things you probably don’t know about Exchange Server 2007.” You’re keeping score on how many you already know, right?

3. Advanced Scheduling

Do you have all Outlook 2007 clients? If not, there are some special adjustments you may need to make to accommodate other mail user agents. Many features of clients are emanations of the software on the client, such as Outlook. Let’s not talk about those right now.

Instead, let’s delve into a feature of Exchange Server 2007 which certainly is for the benefit of end users, but the effects of which extend beyond Outlook 2007 clients to those running older versions of Outlook, IMAP, POP, OWA, EAS, and other kinds of access to E2K7. Scheduling of appointments and meetings.

It’s true, scheduling has been supported in Exchange for many generations, however the functionality offered in E2K7 goes well beyond previous versions. First, there are officially distinct room and equipment mailboxes so that you don’t have to use an ordinary user mailbox which was designed for a person when you really wanted to use the mailbox for a conference room or a mobile piece of equipment. Of course, room and equipment mailboxes aren’t just limited for use to represent meeting rooms and portable projectors, yet we’ll not focus on that now.

What’s really exciting about scheduling is booking policies which you can configure for how meeting requests are handled. Yes, I’d like to get into the details, but I think we’d best save that for a later article, and besides Rich Luckett may have a few things to say about that. Let us know what kind of interest there is in booking policy details.

For now, the important thing I wanted to see if you knew about is how much scheduling has changed. It’s true that there are some great options in the scheduling assistant in Outlook 2007, but Exchange 2007’s Outlook Web Access-based scheduling assistant is rather nice too. The real power of the scheduling advancements lives in the guts of the Exchange scheduling services.

It’s worth taking a deeper look. Perhaps we’ll revisit this later if there’s interest.

4. Are you ready for number four out of five? It’s not really something about Exchange itself as a standalone product, but a way you can get an E2K7 Standard Edition license. Both Windows Server 2008 Small Business Server (SBS) and Essential Business Server (EBS) include a license for E2K7 Standard bundled with the Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition license(s) and other services such as SQL Server. If you’re not familiar with SBS and EBS, it’s worth taking a look to see if they’d be useful options for you. If you already have E2K7 or have a volume or enterprise license agreement, then they might not be right for your deployment. Still, it’s good to know about such licensing options for small to medium sized deployments.

I’ll save item #5 for the next post. Stay tuned.

Five Things About Exchange Server 2007 You Probably Don’t Know (part 2)

What? You didn’t get a chance to read the previous post about black wells and Unified Messaging for only $35 per person? Well, if you did read all that, just continue on here for the ongoing story about “five things you probably don’t know about Exchange Server 2007.” Don’t forget to keep score.

2. Redundancy takes you from 1 server to 4 servers. Minimally.

Servers cost money – well, unless you know something about clouds and blue sky that I haven’t figured out yet… There’s hardware, licenses for installing and running the operating system (Windows), licenses for the extra server software (Exchange), client licenses to be able to access the software, electricity, more electricity for air conditioning (in Phoenix at least), real estate for the rack(s) of equipment, and perhaps some money for the people who set up and run that software and equipment.

But sometimes people don’t correctly assess the cost of redundancy. Yeah, obviously there are costs of not having redundancy. Once upon a time I had the great joy of working on a team developing a fault-tolerant UNIX operating system environment we affectionately called the perpetual operating system, but that’s another story. Nowadays we can do fault-tolerance in a couple of ways in Windows Server for supporting redundancy in Exchange Server 2007 services.

Clustering of the message storage in Exchange Server 2007 can be accomplished by deploying a pair of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition nodes (or W2K3 EE) with Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise Edition. E2K7 can be configured with Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) to replicate between the nodes in the failover cluster. Each of these two E2K7 EE servers can store each database and storage group (transaction logs plus system (e.g. checkpoint, temporary) files) locally on direct attached storage.

So we have two servers, we have redundancy, and we’re done, right? For the storage of messages in mailbox databases, yes. But there’s a catch. In order to use the Clustered Mailbox Server deployment, only the clustered mailbox role can be performed on these servers. The Client Access (CA) and Hub Transport (HT) roles must be performed elsewhere. Yes, that means on other servers.

Let’s ignore Unified Messaging (UM) and Edge Transport (ET) roles for the moment, because they both really lead to other stories.

Assuming you don’t want a single point of failure for the CA and HT functionality, such as (but by no means limited to) Outlook Web Access and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) respectively, we could use a Network Load Balancing (NLB) “cluster” for those roles. Let’s assume that both CA and HT roles will be deployed on each of the two Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition servers we’ll set up on Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition (to potentially save licensing costs compared with the Enterprise Editions of E2K7 and W2K8).

Two servers as nodes in a failover cluster for storage for the clustered mailbox functionality, and two more servers for the NLB “cluster” for the CA+HT aspects of Exchange. So to recapitulate, if we had a smallish deployment which would have fit in one E2K7 server, and we want some decent redundancy, this redundancy takes us from 1 server to 4 servers. Minimally. Well, your mileage may vary, because I didn’t mention the word virtualization, but hopefully you get the picture.

Tune in next time for the continuing saga of 5 things about E2K7 you just might not have thought about yet.

Five Things About Exchange Server 2007 You Probably Don’t Know

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If you’ve ever visited an old style well, you could look down the well and only see blackness. If you cast down a bucket on a rope, you’ll pull up only one bucket of water at a time. Unless you have a strong understanding of geology, from whence the water comes is at least a bit of a mystery for many wells.

Similarly, there is a well-spring of features and capabilities of Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2007 messaging platform. The longer you use Exchange Server 2007, the more treasures you can pull up from the deep. We’ll avoid some of the more obvious or often stated aspects such as that only 64-bit (x64) servers (hardware, plus Windows Server operating system) can be used on production Exchange Server 2007 servers. Instead, let’s look at five things you probably don’t know about Exchange Server 2007. Keep score at home (work) and let us know how many of these you already knew!

1. Unified Messaging costs $35 US per person, but with it you get other features and support for free!

Well, just to be clear, here’s what I’m really trying to say. First, the Exchange Server 2007 licenses for the server itself do not include client access. As shown at <http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/2007/howtobuy/default.mspx>, a $699 US or $3,999 US server license is separate from the CLIENT access licenses (CALs).  Second, an Outlook 2007 license is separate from these too. Third, a standard E2K7 CAL, which retails for a list price of $67 US, could be used for access to the core features of E2K7 which are hosted by any number of E2K7 Standard and/or E2K7 Enterprise licensed servers. These are independent variables.

What core features of E2K7 does the Standard CAL allow us to use? Access to a mailbox via smartphone (OWA, EAS, etc.), or Netbook, Notebook, or workstation via OWA, POP, IMAP, MAPI/RPC, or Outlook Anywhere (MAPI/RPC/HTTP) are supported (the computer could potentially be running Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc.). Basic mailbox management of default folders is include.

Unified Messaging is not include in the Standard CAL. Four, an add-on “Enterprise” CAL in addition to the Standard CAL could be added per user to include Unified Messaging functionality. Although the estimated price is $35 US for the Enterprise CAL, as Microsoft’s site states, it’s not available as a simple retail ticket item. The Unified Messaging features allow inbound voicemail, inbound FAX, and Outlook Voice Access. Of course, one or more of your licensed servers need to host the Unified Messaging (UM) role for such clients and much configuration and integration with voice networks needs to be done as well. The details of all that are certainly another topic.

But with the Enterprise CAL comes more than just Unified Messaging features. Most importantly, the pricing is for Licensing and Software Assurance (L&SA) until you explicitly choose a license-only deal. Also, many other features are included in the Enterprise CAL, such as ForeFront Security for Exchange Server for anti-virus handling, Exchange hosted filtering, and support for more advanced mailbox policies than the Standard CAL gives, including custom managed folders.

In the next post, I’ll continue with 4 more things you might not have known about Exchange Server 2007. Until then, take care!

Extra Extra — Windows Server 2008 Foundation

I was in the middle of writing of post about “Five Things About Exchange Server 2007…” when I decided to shift gears and write about something I didn’t think you could wait to hear about. Well, no, not the GM/Segway PUMA. That would be a bit too off-topic for this blog.

It’s an oh-so-recently released operating system which original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) bundle with server hardware and there are no client access licenses (CALs) for regular file & print functionality. Another strain of Linux? Um, no. The Snow Leopard version of Mac OS X Server? Not just yet.

Welcome: Yet Another Flavor of Windows Server 2008.

So you’ll just have to wait a bit longer for what I was going to post about Exchange Server 2007.

So just who is this new kid on the block?

Windows Server 2008 Foundation. The moniker “Foundation” actually includes much of the regular tried and true Windows Server 2008 Standard edition, but the licensing is different. That’s the big news.

1. You get the W2K8 Server FOUNDATION bundled with low-end server hardware from your computer vendor. Some people have likened it to “the NetBook of the server market” – low-end capacity, low-budget price point.

2. You can only have up to 15 user accounts on the server, but those could be in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) either as a stand-alone AD DS domain hosted by this Foundation server only, or with this Foundation server as an additional domain controller in a larger environment. The various possibilities of where these up to fifteen user accounts are is quite significant to understanding where W2K8 Server Foundation could be utilized in not just tiny businesses but branch offices too.

3. You can host services (think W2K8 Roles and Features) such as file & print, AD DS, Terminal Services, and other local applications which would normally run on a full-blown Windows Server 2008 system.

4. You don’t get any other applications such as Exchange Server or SQL Server bundled in the Foundation license deal like with W2K8 Small Business Server (SBS) or Essential Business Server (EBS).

5. Although Terminal Services CALs (TSCALs) are still needed for licensing access to terminal services, most other services, including file and print, do not require CALs. Remember the 15 user limit however.

6. The hardware + operating system total sale price is expected to be between US $500 and $1000. One of the W2K8 Server Foundation restrictions is a maximum of 8 GB RAM, however on a $500 server which can only host 15 users this shouldn’t really be considered as a hugely abnormal constraint.

Would you buy a server like this? For small business, it may be a question of cloud versus Linux versus Windows Server 2K8 Foundation in that price bracket (unless you’re thinking of Solaris or Mac OS X, et al). What you mid-size size business and enterprise people shouldn’t neglect is the question “Is there any benefit in having a tiny local server in a small office for file and print and applications for up to 15 users while having messaging and database applications accessed over the WAN to headquarters (or regional) offices?”

In other news, Windows Server 2008 R2 (Windows 7 Server by any other name) is expected to (really) be released this calendar year. That would be in 2009 along with Windows 7 (the client OS). Is it time to say “Hasta la vista Vista?” More on that later (well actually I’ve been blogging about that elsewhere already).

Five Things About Windows Server 2008 You Probably Don’t Know (part 3)

This is the 3rd and final part of the article on 5 things you probably don’t know about Windows Server 2008. Previously, I wrote about NPS and then 2 aspects of PowerShell (portability and remoting). Now let’s wrap up with 2 more things.

4. Branch office support has reached “significant” status with Windows Server 2008.

Well, it’s true that many organizations have used Windows Server in small satellite offices for years. But often times the tradeoffs of what services should/must be run in the headquarters versus a field office weren’t all that effective for many organizations. But Windows Server 2003 R2 provided some truly useful “branch office” features and Windows Server 2008 extends support for such needs to encompass several additional services.

Windows Server 2003 R2 offered a Print Management Console (PMC) and massively upgraded (well completely redesigned is more apropos perhaps) Distributed File System (DFS) implementation which both helped to unify, policize, and centralize the management of file and print services hosted by Windows Server which are distributed across diverse and/or vast network topologies, geographies, or (organizational) political boundaries.

Windows Server 2008 includes all that and more. The most publicized branch office feature (which you may have heard of (but may not know enough about)) is support for Read-Only Domain Controllers (RODCs). While they don’t fully support local Exchange Server 2007 messaging servers, this sort of option for deploying additional domain controllers (DCs) is a boon for many management and security concerns. Compared with the staid “desktop” orientation of Terminal Services and Remote Desktop of the past, the new gatewaying and individual remote application extensions to the terminal services framework have substantial advantages not only for branch office scenarios, but even for single building deployments. There are many other features and roles in Windows Server 2008 which support this “branch office as a first class citizen” treatment that’s finally coming of age in Windows Server.

5. Windows Small Business Server (SBS) and Essential Business Server (EBS) licensing can potentially save small and medium businesses a lot of money and hassle.

For one price, Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 includes Windows Server roles and features plus more:

• Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition

• Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition

• Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

• Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server

• Windows Server Update Services 3.0

• Microsoft Office Live Small Business

And not just all that which we get in the Windows SBS 2008 Standard Edition, but the Windows SBS 2008 Premium Edition also licenses you to install Windows Server 2008 Standard on a second server which can host the include (again, this is just in SBS 2008 PREMIUM):

• Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard for Small Business

Microsoft’s Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008 goes much farther than Windows SBS 2008 with:

• Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition on up to 3 servers (EBS 2008 Standard) or 4 servers (EBS 2008 Premium)

• Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007

• Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (licensed for download (not on included media))

• Exchange Server 2007 Standard Edition (E2K7)

• Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server

• Microsoft Forefront Treat Management Gateway Medium Business Edition

For example, the three servers could be:

• Management Server: W2K8 Server + SharePoint + System Center

• Messaging Server: W2K8 Server + Exchange 2007 Server + Forefront

• Security Server: W2K8 Server + Exchange 2007 Server + Threat Mgt.

And not just all that which we get in the Windows EBS 2008 Standard Edition, but the Windows EBS 2008 Premium Edition also licenses you to install Windows Server 2008 Standard on a fourth server which can host the include (again, this is just in EBS 2008 PREMIUM):

• Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition

(Note that on that 4th server (SQL), until the end of 2009, Microsoft allows Windows EBS 2008 Premium licensees to use Windows Server 2003 R2 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard as options.)

Consider adding all the licensing fees for these products separately. If you need several of these services, either the standard or premium editions of SBS or EBS 2008 versions could save quite a bit. Note that certain Enterprise edition features of Windows, Exchange, and SQL servers geared to big businesses – such as clustering – might be on the agenda of some small and medium sized businesses, and the Standard editions included in SBS and EBS 2008 wouldn’t be sufficient in those settings. Even so, it’s good to know the options.

Were all five of these things new to you? Did you know a few? Did you already know all five? Let us know if you’d like to know 5 more things…

Five Things About Windows Server 2008 You Probably Don’t Know (part 2)

Previously, I started writing about five things about Windows Server 2008 that you probably don’t know, noting that some Windows Server 2008 Network Policy Services features were available in Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2003 R2, but Windows Server 2008 has much much more! Now, here are two more things.

2. Did you know that there’s an amazing new automation environment for administrations of Windows Server 2008 which can also be used on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista? And it looks like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will get a newer snazzier version?

Of course, you might have known I’m referring to Windows PowerShell. Some people think it’s just a new command line interface with different syntax than the classic Windows Command Prompt and old Disk Operating System (and virtual DOS machine of Windows ilk). And it is a hot little shell, but the automation and scripting capabilities are where it’s at. There is such an incredible wealth of tools and utilities available for download to extend the reach and capabilities of Windows PowerShell. Did you know that Windows PowerShell version 1.0 does indeed work with XP, Server 2003, and Vista as well? All of those versions of Windows could be managed with one shell. One shell to rule them all – just think about it. And yes, there are certainly graphical interfaces for PowerShell. When PowerShell version 2.0 comes out of Community Technology Preview (CTP) and hopefully gets bundled with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, we get even more remote administration capabilities built in to Microsoft’s official shell.

3. Windows Server 2008-based servers which are installed with Server Core installation mode can still be managed in many ways across the network with Windows PowerShell.

Assuming that the existence and exciting capabilities of Windows PowerShell, did you know that you don’t have to wait for Windows PowerShell version 2.0 to get many remote management capabilities? Good ol’ PowerShell version 1.0, which is included as an addable feature for Windows Server 2008 Full Installation has a lot of remoting built in.

Although there are ways around it, officially Windows Server 2008 which is installed with the much-recommended-because-it-helps-to-reduce-attack-surface-and-updates-and-a-whole-lot-more Server Core installation does not support the .NET framework which is a prerequisite to install and run Windows PowerShell. So does that mean that officially there is no way to manage a W2K8 Server Core server? Hardly.  Windows PowerShell comes with strong Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and some other remote administration features built in. For example, Windows PowerShell can be installed on a management workstation (or other server) and used to manage Server Core machines across the network. That’s just one way PowerShell can help you do remote management today.

How are you doing so far? Were any of these three things thus far new to you? That’s only 3 out of 5 things I’ll be writing about in this article, but I’ll post the other 2 soon so stay tuned.

Five Things About Windows Server 2008 You Probably Don’t Know (part 1)

I learn new things every day. Sometimes they’re really totally new, and of course occasionally they’re things I had forgotten or kind of knew, but the new part casts new light on the idea. Then there are those rare moments which I have a “blinding flash of the obvious” and get the big picture on something, like when the tenth time you visit a new city things really start to connect.

Here a five things about Windows Server 2008 which are the less obvious, more esoteric, yet hopefully useful features or quirks. You probably knew that Windows Server 2008 is really Windows NT 6.0 so I’ll save that for the things you probably already know list. The following is a brief list of some things which I tend to assume that many people know and am constantly amazed by clients and students who really don’t know them. How many do you already know? Were any or all of these new to you? We’d love to hear from you.

1. Did you know that Windows Server 2008 can act as the prevailing central authority on which computers, devices, and people are on your network via Ethernet, Wireless (e.g. 802.11), VPN, and dial-up?

Small businesses, medium-sized shops, and humongous enterprises could all potentially benefit from this network authentication feature which expands what was possible in Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2003 R2. With services such as 802.1x, EAP, TLS, PPPoE, Kerberos, X.509v3 certificate-based authentication, RADIUS, LDAP, and more Windows Server 2008 provides a centralized way for administrators to choose by policy or individual specification which devices (Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile, etc.), computers (Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, Windows, etc.), and people (employees, contractors, customers, guests) are allowed on the network.

But wait, there’s more! Windows Server 2008 goes beyond the basics for who or what is allowed on the network from a sheer identity standpoint. State of health can be considered too. No, the server isn’t going to check each human’s temperature or check their breath for contagious microbes and choose if they can be on the network right now, but Network Access Protection, Network Policy Services, and Health Registration Authorities are elements of a framework which can be used to ensure proper service packs, hot fixes, patches and such for certain operating systems. Non-compliant systems can be placed on a virtually isolated remediation network on which these systems can get the necessary updates or potentially even fixes for a nasty virus. It’s a flexible, expandable, customizable framework, not just a one-size-fits-all kind of proposition.

Even if you knew all that, consider this. All of this is fairly easy and inexpensive to set up on Windows Server 2008 assuming you have the right firmware in your Ethernet switches and wireless access points. Windows can even provide the VPN and dial-in services as well.

That’s just the first of five things. I’ll post the next couple of things in the next   part of the article.