Exchange Tools Aid Deployment Tasks

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2003-09-22
 
 
 

Exchange Tools Aid Deployment Tasks


Deploying Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 2003 can take administrators down a long, complex path, but the deployment tools Microsoft includes with Exchange 2003 will smooth that path at least a bit. During tests, eWEEK Labs found Microsofts deployment tools useful for diagnosing problems before installing the server. The Exchange 2003 resources include a number of helpful recommendations for planning to build a secure messaging environment. All the tools mentioned in this story are free and downloadable via the download link at www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003.

Any site that has delayed deploying Active Directory, Exchange 2000 or both would be smart to make an investment in training administrators prior to the migration. The expense will pay off in a smoother transition.

Those companies that havent made the transition from Exchange 5.5 have the most complicated upgrade path ahead because they will need to reconcile Windows NT Domains against Active Directory before even beginning to think about installing Exchange 2003. The key elements to making that transition are Active Directory Migration Tool and Active Directory Sizer Tool.

Next page: Migration Planning

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During our testing of Exchange, we used Migration Tool to prepare for migrating from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003. Migrating user accounts is the first step in a lengthy process that also involves granting administrative privileges for Exchange 5.5 to the domain administrator on Windows Server 2003, planning for coexistence between the Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2003 servers, preparing Active Directory for Exchange 2003, and finally beginning to deploy Exchange 2003.

In these mixed-mode environments, administrators will need to run Exchange Deployment Tool, which includes a number of utilities for ensuring that the NT Domain and Active Directory relationships are functioning properly.

There are a number of administrative tasks that need to get knocked out prior to making the upgrade, including creating Trust Relationships between the NT Domain and Active Directory and creating test accounts in the NT Domain, in Active Directory and on the Exchange 5.5 server. Running Exchange 2003 requires running a number of services within Internet Information Services, so companies will also need to install and configure IIS prior to installing Exchange.

Based on our experience during testing, all these tasks can be time- consuming. Just the preliminary work of installing updates, establishing Active Directory and migrating accounts on a single server took a man-day to complete. The work of prepping Active Directory for Exchange 2003 and installing a couple of Exchange 2003 servers likewise took a man-day.

Companies need to spend considerable time planning for features such as Outlook Web Access. Installing, configuring and testing the additional servers needed to provide secure access to Outlook Web Access will require a good deal of time and effort. We recommend that sites also plan on making modifications to user mailboxes as needed because Exchange installs with Outlook Web Access and access from mobile devices enabled by default.

Three new security features in the new version of Exchange require Windows Server 2003: IIS 6.0 security and dedicated application mode, IP Security for front-end and back-end clusters, and cross-forest authentication with Outlook 2003. Because a number of Exchanges new features require upgrading to Windows Server 2003, sites will need to potentially plan for server operating system updates as well.

Microsoft offers performance tools for sizing servers that will run Exchange 2003. However, new performance enhancements require running the Outlook 2003 client, complicating the decision process for sizing servers in an Exchange deployment. Since companies are likely to upgrade Exchange servers and desktop systems on different timelines, the Load Simulator and Exchange Server Stress and Performance tools will really provide only an indication of minimum system requirements.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

Next page: Questions to Ask: Exchange 2003

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  • What is the best firewall and proxy implementation to secure Outlook Web Access?

  • How many additional server licenses are required to right-size Outlook Web Access from outside the firewall?

  • What threshold of server consolidation will merit upgrades to Windows Server 2003 and Outlook 2003 in parallel with Exchange 2003?

  • How can end-user training on Outlook 2003 be leveraged to minimize training for new Outlook Web Access client?

  • How can kiosk systems be deployed to tap pricing advantages in a per-device access license model?

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