Exchange 2010 Course Reactions - Day 2 of 5

And my thoughts from day two of the course...

Exchange Control Panel
It's a sort of web admin light.
It's more oriented towards user and group admin, and could be handy. It also exposes itself via the user's settings in Outlook Web Access, so can be used to delegate control of groups to users.

On the one hand, I was doing this in Domino back in 2004 (with Domino 6.5), and I wasn't exactly pushing the boundaries... On the other hand, I can see why this would be very handy, and late is better than never.

Users and Groups
The strong connection with AD is evident, and provides a wealth of options. Of particular interest are dynamic groups - effectively groups which populate themselves based on a query.
If the data in the directory is good, then that's a winning feature right there!

Also, moderated groups were interesting - groups which have approvers for messages sent to them, to prevent people from abusing "All Staff" kinds of groups. Nice.

There are some nice touches in the handling of resources, especially in the approval and automation. Not much of it is different from Domino/Notes, but it's certainly come on since I last saw it in Exchange.
I particularly liked the ability to add custom attributes - if they can be queried easily enough in the client, then it could be very useful. I wouldn't want to bet that they are easily usable in the client, mind you - but at least the building blocks are there.

Having installed a few other Microsoft products recently, I have to say that certificates are both a huge weakness and something which now inspires dread in everyone I work with.
Given that we all come from a Notes/Domino background, where certificates are embedded into the product so much that it's a snap, this is a bit of a shock.
Exchange 2010 makes it easier than any other Microsoft product I've had to do this with, but that's still not easier than *any* product I've ever used.

Autodiscover Configuration
Well, that's pretty decent. It basically does a DNS query to a fixed subdomain, based on the user's email address. So all they need to provide for setup is their SMTP address. No server details, nothing - it Just Works(tm).
Someone should steal that for Notes. It's not that typing in a server name is onerous - it isn't. It's that desktop support staff frequently can't remember it or don't bother to make a note of it when working on an issue, and then end up calling administrators to get that little bit of detail... A waste of everyone's time.

Outlook Anywhere
Tunnelling RPC over HTTPS. Interesting, and allows access from anywhere. I can see why a small business would want it, but unless you genuinely can't afford a VPN I think it's a bit too much of a security risk for my liking... Direct access to CAS servers? From the internet? Most network admins would have a fit!

Outlook Web Access and ActiveSync controls
Not bad. Not quite Blackberry Enterprise Server, but not bad at all. Simple to configure on the client, if a bit of a pain to set up on the server. (Due to, of course, CERTIFICATES! Bah.)
The most obvious thing is that the configuration for these items is full of dire warnings that you need an Enterprise license for the user in order to use anything useful. For basic access, it's fine - but for much else, I suspect your operating costs are about to skyrocket.


And that's day two. Overall, this is a very capable product with some nice touches. If they could just sort out certificate handling and licensing, it would be better - but at least you only have to do that once.

(Well, until the certificates or licenses expire...)