Exchange & Outlook UPDATE, Exchange Edition, January 24, 2003

Exchange and Outlook UPDATE, Outlook Edition—brought to you by Exchange & Outlook Administrator, a print newsletter from Windows & .NET Magazine that contains practical advice, how-to articles, tips, and techniques to help you do your job today.
http://www.exchangeadmin.com


THIS ISSUE SPONSORED BY

Enterprise Vault Email Archiving from KVS

CommuniGate Pro Groupware by Stalker Software
(below COMMENTARY)


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    January 24, 2003 — In this issue:

    1. COMMENTARY

    • You Can't Take It with You, So You'd Better Document It

    2. ANNOUNCEMENTS

    • Catch the Microsoft Mobility Tour—Time Is Running Out!
    • New! News, Tips, and More to Keep Your Network Humming

    3. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)

    • New ExMS ActiveDL 5.0 from Discus Data Solutions

    4. RESOURCES

    • XGEN: Architecture of the Exchange Resource Dynamic Link Library (Exres.dll)
    • Featured Thread: Running LDAP Queries on a Directory

    5. NEW AND IMPROVED

    • Safeguard Your Exchange Environment
    • Submit Top Product Ideas

    6. CONTACT US
    See this section for a list of ways to contact us.


    1. COMMENTARY
    (contributed by Paul Robichaux, News Editor, [email protected])

  • YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, SO YOU'D BETTER DOCUMENT IT

  • I've lost track of the number of messages I've received from readers that begin "I just took over an Exchange server ...." It happens all the time: People change jobs, retire, or otherwise transfer responsibility for an Exchange server to someone else. In many of these cases, the new administrator gets a pig in a poke, with no foreknowledge of how the Exchange environment is configured or what to look out for. This problem is particularly acute for administrators who are hired to maintain an Exchange network after a consultant (or the boss's son) has "helped" with it. To ease transitions, administrators need to know what to look for when they take over an Exchange environment and what information to provide when they hand over an environment to someone else.

    First, what should you look for when you take over an Exchange network? When I evaluate a customer's Exchange configuration, the first thing I want to know is how big the Exchange organization is. I ask how many mailboxes the organization has, how many servers the mailboxes are spread across, where the servers are located, and how big the servers' Information Stores (ISs) are. The answers give me a good idea of what kinds of things to look for as I proceed with the evaluation.

    Next, I typically ask questions about two radically different areas: backup and restore processes and connectivity. Knowing how the servers' critical data is protected—or how it isn't protected—provides valuable information that can come in handy during situations ranging from design reviews to emergency recoveries. Connectivity is important because knowing how the Exchange servers connect to each other and to the Internet helps me build a mental map of how messages should be flowing. That map is also useful if I'm trying to figure out why messages aren't flowing.

    Then, I ask about security. I always ask new clients to download and run the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) tool, which scans servers to check that they have the latest set of recommended OS security patches. (You can download MBSA at the URL below.) Because I can easily script MBSA to scan multiple machines and its reports can be quite detailed, I can get a good picture of the overall level of Windows patch management. MBSA also helps me identify critical Windows security fixes that might be missing. Unfortunately, MBSA doesn't help identify Exchange-related hotfixes or patches, although Microsoft might enhance it to do so in the future.
    http://download.microsoft.com/download/e/5/7/e57f498f-2468-4905-aa5f-369252f8b15c/mbsasetup.msi

    Only after I have information about the OS baseline configuration do I start worrying about Exchange-specific settings. This approach might seem backward, but it makes sense: Exchange is so dependent on the integrity and correctness of the underlying OS that assessing the OS first is smart. For Exchange 2000 Server or later, I want to know how servers are arranged into routing and administrative groups, what Exchange system policies have been applied, and whether message tracking has been turned on. I also find it useful to know how (or whether) Exchange is configured to use firewalls, Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, or other network filtering or screening, including antispam and antivirus software.

    Finally, I always take screen shots of settings dialog boxes and property pages. Capturing screens is much faster than making notes of the settings as you inspect each page.

    You'd probably like to have this same depth of information when you start working on a new-to-you server. But what about the poor soul who has to follow in your footsteps? What can you do to make his or her life easier? Simple: Gather the information I've described in one easy-to-find location. In past columns, I've talked about the mainframe mindset of recording in a logbook every configuration change that occurs; even if you don't go that far, a ring binder labeled "EXCHANGE" and filled with the kind of useful information I discuss here will be a much-appreciated welcome gift to your successor. Who knows—maybe your excellent documentation will start a trend. (We can hope, at least.)


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    2. ANNOUNCEMENTS
    (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

  • CATCH THE MICROSOFT MOBILITY TOUR—TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

  • This outstanding seven-city event will help support your growing mobile workforce. Industry guru Paul Thurrott discusses the coolest mobility hardware solutions around, demonstrates how to increase the productivity of your "road warriors" with the unique features of Windows XP and Office XP, and much more. You could also win an HP iPAQ Pocket PC. There is no charge for these live events, but space is limited, so register today! Sponsored by Microsoft, HP, and Toshiba.
    http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/mobility

  • NEW! NEWS, TIPS, AND MORE TO KEEP YOUR NETWORK HUMMING

  • Networking UPDATE brings you the how-to tips and news you need to implement and maintain a rock-solid networking infrastructure. We'll explore interoperability solutions, hardware (including servers, routers, and switches), network architecture, network management, network security, installation technology, network training, and WAN disaster recovery. Subscribe (at no cost!) at
    http://www.winnetmag.com/email/networking

    3. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)

  • NEW EXMS ACTIVEDL 5.0 FROM DISCUS DATA SOLUTIONS

  • New: ActiveDL 5.0 - industry leading DL management tool now supports the ability to query external data sources when building lists or to import membership lists from a text file. Eval within 30 days and win an iPAQ!
    Find out more at http://www.discusdata.com/products/ActiveDL-iPAQ.asp

    4. RESOURCES

    XGEN: ARCHITECTURE OF THE EXCHANGE RESOURCE DYNAMIC LINK LIBRARY (EXRES.DLL)
    Each week, Microsoft posts several Exchange Server how-to articles to its Knowledge Base. This week, learn about the architecture of exres.dll, the Exchange-specific resource DLL that starts and stops Exchange-related services in response to Microsoft Cluster service actions.
    http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=810860

    FEATURED THREAD: RUNNING LDAP QUERIES ON A DIRECTORY
    Marcina runs Exchange Server 5.5 on a Windows NT 4.0 domain and can run Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) queries on individual containers. However, Marcina's Web programmers need to be able to run LDAP queries on the entire directory. If you can help, go to the following URL:
    http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=40&tid=53260

    5. NEW AND IMPROVED
    (contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])

  • SAFEGUARD YOUR EXCHANGE ENVIRONMENT

  • Trend Micro announced ScanMail for Exchange 6.0, software that provides messaging security, including antivirus and content-filtering technology, service, and support. The software lets you download antivirus updates and complies with Microsoft Antivirus Scan API 2.0 and Antivirus Scan API 1.0 to provide streamlined implementation, upgrades, and customization. Scan Mail supports Exchange 2000 Server and earlier. Pricing starts at $750 for a 25-user license. Contact Trend Micro at 408-257-1500.
    http://www.trendmicro.com

  • SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS

  • Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]

    6. CONTACT US
    Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

    This email newsletter is brought to you by Exchange & Outlook Administrator, the print newsletter with practical advice, tips, and techniques covering migration, backup and restoration, security, and much more. Subscribe today!
    http://www.exchangeadmin.com/sub.cfm?code=neei23xxup

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