Exchange Ideas, January 2007

Tips, news, and community resources for messaging admins

Exchange FAQs

What are the Exchange Server 2007 server roles?

Exchange Server 2003 has a basic set of server roles: a back-end server that hosts Information Stores (ISs) and performs the bulk of processing and front-end servers that accept client requests and proxy them to the appropriate back-end server. Exchange 2007 has a more granular set of server roles to give flexibility to larger Exchange deployments, while still letting small-to-medium deployments host all the required roles on one server, if appropriate. The five Exchange 2007 server roles are

  • Mailbox—hosts mailbox and public folder data. This role provides Messaging API (MAPI) access for Outlook clients. Additionally, a variation exists called the Clustered Mailbox role when the Exchange server hosts as part of a clustered environment; the Clustered Mailbox role requires no other Exchange roles running on the cluster instance.
  • Client Access—similar to the old front-end server role, the Client Access role provides all other client protocol access, apart from MAPI (i.e., Outlook Web Access—OWA, POP3, IMAP, and Microsoft ActiveSync).
  • Unified Messaging—provides client access to mailbox, address box, and calendar via telephone and voice. This role requires special IP-PBX or VoIP gateway software.
  • Hub Transport—mail-routing server that forwards mail to another hub transport server, edge server, or mailbox server. Unlike Exchange 2003, which uses Exchange routing groups to direct messages between Exchange sites and outside the organization, Exchange 2007 uses Active Directory (AD) sites for this purpose.
  • Edge Transport—gateway from the Exchange organization to the outside world. This is the last hop for outbound mail and the first hop for incoming mail and the server that provides mail quarantine. This role doesn't require AD access, making it ideal for perimeter deployment without opening ports for AD access. This role must always be deployed on a server with no other Exchange roles.

The Mailbox, Client Access, Unified Messaging, and Hub Transport roles can be distributed across multiple servers or in combination with each other on potentially one server. Any AD site that has a Mailbox role also requires a server in the same AD site running the Hub Transport and Client Access roles (or they can be installed on the Mailbox-role server).
—John Savill

How can I back up Exchange Server databases?

When Exchange is installed, the Windows Backup utility is updated to include support for backing up Exchange databases via the Microsoft Exchange Server branch, as Figure 1 shows. To select the type of backup (e.g., normal, copy, incremental), click Start Backup, then click Advanced, as Figure 2 shows. Other third-party backup programs have more advanced options, such as mailbox-level backups and mailbox item-level backups, to enable simpler restoration.
—John Savill

Product Review: Zenprise

As an administrator troubleshooting problems, I'm often frustrated by "noisy" monitoring tools that choke the console with apparently unrelated events, requiring me to figure out which events are causes and which are effects and adding to the downtime. Enter Zenprise, a software tool that detects and resolves problems with Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 Server.

Zenprise monitors resources Exchange requires, formulates performance thresholds, and records events when the thresholds are surpassed. Using a series of industry-standard algorithms to draw correlations between multiple events, Zenprise determines a root cause and proposes a course of action.

I tested the Zenprise application on the company's demonstration environment, a network with an Exchange 2003 front end and back end and two domain controllers (DCs). In this small test environment, the installation process took half an hour.

When I used Zenprise to troubleshoot simulated problems with the IS and mailboxes, I appreciated the flow chart it created to show the steps to resolution, which Figure 3 shows. However, at one point in my testing, I realized that I was following the wrong resolution path. When I interrupted the process, Zenprise generated an unexpected error. I spoke with Zenprise personnel who confirmed that the latest release of the software resolves the problem I experienced.

Although the price seems a little steep, Zenprise could provide value for many Exchange administrators. In addition, the fact that the product is available as a subscription suggests that Zenprise will address bugs regularly.

Editor's note: Version 2.5 of this product was expected to ship as this issue went to press.
—Joel Barker

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