Exchange 2003 Mobilizes Cornell University

Providing America's future business leaders with IT support means offering the latest and greatest in mobility.

Providing Americas future business leaders with IT support means offering the latest and greatest in mobility. At Cornell Universitys Johnson School of Management, that means an upgrade to Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 2003 for its new mobility enhancements.

"Staying connected while on the road interviewing for jobs is critical to students here," said Kevin Baradet, chief technology officer at the school and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. "The enhancements made to Exchange 2003 will fix a lot of problems students have when they travel and need to get through a firewall. We also expect to be able to offer better support for mobile devices and PDAs."

Baradet, who is preparing his infrastructure for the migration from Exchange 2000, credits enhancements to Outlook Web Access, the use of MAPI (Messaging API) over HTTP and increased support for mobile devices as the main factors behind his decision to upgrade. On the back end, the ability to move mailboxes among servers and a change in the anti-virus API were also major motivators for upgrading.

Baradet and his IT team are finishing the preparation work required to deploy a new Exchange 2003 server running on the Windows Server 2003 operating system. The plan, Baradet said, is to begin migrating live users to Exchange 2003 next month and go into full production during the schools winter break in January.

Once Baradet has Exchange 2003 in production, he said, he expects to be able to offer the 1,000 users he supports an enhanced mobile e-mail experience. Microsofts revamping of Outlook Web Access includes a spelling checker as well as features closer to the actual Outlook 2003 client, he said.

With the recent spate of virus outbreaks, Baradet said, Microsofts decision to use MAPI over HTTP came at an opportune time. ISPs efforts to protect themselves by shutting the 135 through 139 IP ports, as well as the 445 IP port, cause the current Outlook client to break because it needs those ports to make a connection to the Exchange server.

Baradet is also looking to enhance the user experience on mobile devices. Due to the proliferation of PDAs connected to wireless LANs, Baradet said he will test a feature in Exchange that will enable students to check their e-mail on Pocket PCs and other portable devices. Currently, the school allows only secure connections to its Exchange servers, and the inferior experience using Outlook Web Access on a PDA has frustrated students, he said.

While Baradet expects to migrate all his users to Exchange 2003 by the end of this year, he said he has run into issues with the Active Directory connector upgrade. His IT team plans to bring an Exchange 2003 server running on Windows Server 2003 into production before migrating existing Exchange servers to the new software.

"There are a lot of things with Exchange 2003 that are catching our interest," Baradet said. "Well carefully put everything into place so that if some functionality catches our interest, well be ready to go."

Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.