In today's digital economy, e-mail has become a veritable circulatory system, delivering that lifeblood for organizations of all sizes: information. With continuously increasing messaging loads, sluggish Microsoft Exchange Server performance can put a drag on employee productivity, customer service and responsiveness to market opportunities. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Lee Dumas explains five steps you can take to tweak, configure and customize Microsoft Exchange Server for optimal performance.
Microsoft Exchange Server is a complex infrastructure
to manage. Although Microsoft Exchange Server can be complex, there
are some simple steps that can be taken to greatly improve
system performance, keep downtime to a minimum and considerably reduce help
desk complaints about sluggish e-mail response
times. Let's examine five simple steps you can take to tweak,
configure and customize Microsoft Exchange Server for optimal performance in
Step No. 1: Offload spam and antivirus processing
Today, as much as 80 percent of e-mail messages
received by an organization are considered spam. Many organizations run
anti-spam and antivirus products in-house, in some cases using several layers
of defense and solutions from multiple vendors. This approach not only
increases the overall cost of managing the messaging system, but can lead to
problems associated with deploying malware signatures or even basic operating
system updates and configurations. This complexity can actually decrease
security, not increase it.
The advantages of running antivirus and anti-spam
services in the cloud are undeniable. Third-party service providers that
specialize in messaging security can protect customers more cheaply and
effectively than organizations can typically do it themselves.
These companies have invested large amounts of money,
not only in research organizations and software, but also in the infrastructure
to handle huge volumes of e-mail messages. In some cases, they even provide
business continuity and disaster recovery services in the event of a
The biggest benefit of moving antivirus and anti-spam
services to the cloud is the reduction of required bandwidth for SMTP traffic.
Since e-mail is filtered by the service provider, the number of e-mail messages
delivered to an organization's network is dramatically reduced. This reduction
often allows organizations to delay or cancel upgrades to network links and
retire server hardware no longer needed to filter out spam.
Step No. 2: Move the search load from the server to
With the release of Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003,
Microsoft introduced "cached mode" for clients, which allows users to
maintain a local copy of their data while being synced with the Exchange server.
This is often confused with offline mode or PST mode where e-mail is simply
uploaded and downloaded at preset intervals. Cached mode allows a user to be
connected to the server in real time, while still using the local copy of their
data to read/send e-mail and have access to accurate free/busy data.
Using cached mode eliminates the load on the server
for reading and replying to e-mail messages since that work is done by users'
workstations. There are some downsides with deploying cached mode, namely around
security. For example, data is residing on systems over which IT departments
may not have full control. Consider using some sort of encryption technology to
keep this data safe in the event that it is lost or stolen.