Exchange Server 2010: Organization and Configuration

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In a previous article on Windows Exchange, we looked at the evolution of Windows Exchange from an e-mail client to a powerful Exchange Server 2010 with unified communication services. We concluded with the remark that certain steps can help reduce the complexity of managing the complex server infrastructure and make administrator and user experiences pleasing ones. In this article we look at the organization of the Exchange Server in your setup.

Let us start with a look at the Server Roles in Windows Exchange 2010. There five roles: Mailbox Server (MBS), Client Access Server (CAS), Unified Messaging Server (UMS), Hub Transport Server (HTS) and Edge Transport Sever (ETS).

  • The Mailbox Server hosts a lot of data and information including, among others, the Exchange 2010 store, e-mail address policies, address lists and inbox rules.
  • The Client Access Server hosts client protocols such as POP3 and IMAP, and also the Web services.
  • The Unified Messaging Server, connected to a PBX, is the infrastructure that puts all e-mail and voice messages into one mailbox that can be accessed from many devices.
  • The Hub Transport Server is a mail routing server that routes mail within the organization handling mail flow, routing and delivery.
  • The Edge Transport Server is also a mail routing server that routes mail in and out of the organization. Sitting as it does at the perimeter of the organization, it has to handle Antivirus and Anti-spam functionalities based on how the user has configured these.

Different roles can be accommodated on a single server or distributed on multiple servers depending on the requirements of the user organization. Decisions on these matters should be taken in a planned manner considering relevant issues. Adopting just any organization can lead to problems in administration and user experience.

Simple Server Organizations

A small organization can opt for hosting all the roles on a single server. The ETS role will be absent and HTS will be connected to the Internet through a firewall. The server will also act as the Active Directory domain controller. This option is recommended only if you are using Windows Small Business Server.

A bigger organization can choose to go for two servers, with one of them having functionalities similar to those above while the other server will have domain controller role and will also host the ETS. It will be the ETS that is connected to the Internet through a firewall, and also to the HTS for internal mail delivery. Microsoft recommends this option for users under Windows Essential Business Server.

Complex Server Organizations

Larger organizations will necessarily have to go for more complex server organizations. These can be Standard where e-mail clients and server are within the same LAN, or Large with physically separated locations for clients and servers and several Active Directory domains, or Complex where it is necessary to synchronize several Exchange Global Address Lists.

We will look at these in a separate article.

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