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Chapter 1: Business Solutions Based on Exchange 2000Microsoft Exchange 2000 is one of the most popular messaging systems in the marketplace. It is best known as an electronic messaging system for intra-office electronic messaging and calendaring, as well as for inbound/outbound Internet e-mail communications. As Microsoft's fifth-generation messaging system, Exchange 2000 does more than just send and receive e-mail messages and provide individual and group calendaring. This chapter reviews the business solutions for which organizations are using Microsoft Exchange 2000, and how the technologies built into Exchange, both old and new, are leveraged to get the most productivity from the system.
What Is Microsoft Exchange 2000?For most organizations that have deployed the Microsoft Exchange product, it starts off being a basic electronic messaging and calendaring mechanism similar to most other e-mail and scheduling solutions on the market. However, Exchange 2000 extends far beyond just the basics into a truly enterprise-based communications system.
When looking at the core electronic communication requirements of organizations, the basic functions of email and calendaring stand out as the mission-critical applications used to facilitate communications. The following sections look at the various business uses of Exchange 2000, starting with the basics.
Basic Exchange Electronic MessagingThe following are basic electronic messaging functions standard with the Exchange 2000 product.
Microsoft Outlook Client FunctionalityExchange 2000 uses the Outlook client, shown in Figure 1.1, as the front-end to support message creation, look-up, access, and filtering. An Exchange user takes advantage of the Outlook software for the function of message editing such as changing fonts, adding color, and setting boldface or underlining attributes. The mailbox user can also create a personal as well as shared group folder structure so that messages can be dragged and dropped into a logical organizational structure.
Sending and Receiving Internal MessagesThe processing of messages within an Exchange 2000 environment is handled by the server function of Exchange. When a user sends a message from the Outlook client, it is received by the Exchange server that queries DNS and the Active Directory to determine whether the user is internal or external to the organization. If the user is internal to the organization, the message is routed to the internal user's mailbox and the message appears in the user's Outlook client software.
Support for SMTP Inbound/Outbound Internet MailWhen a message is destined for a location outside of the organization, Exchange 2000 routes the message to the external message recipient. Exchange 2000 uses the standard SMTP Internet messaging protocol for common message transport to foreign messaging systems.
Basic Exchange CalendaringMicrosoft Exchange also has integrated personal and group calendaring that can be accessed from the Outlook client software. Some of the core calendaring features include the following.
Personal Appointment BookEach Microsoft Exchange user has a personal appointment book in which his or her schedule is stored, similar to the calendar shown in Figure 1.2. Appointments are stored with time, date, duration, subject, and details of the scheduled appointment. Appointments can be flagged as Private so that when an individual shares his appointment calendar with others, certain appointments are blocked from detailed view by others. An individual's calendar can be viewed or Printed with daily, weekly, or monthly views by default to provide flexibility in seeing calendar events.
Viewing Other's SchedulesAppointment schedules can be shared with others with full details (except private appointments) as well as limited to only seeing free/busy times. A full detailed view allows another user to see all appointments in a calendar (with the exception of private appointments). This gives users in an Exchange organization the ability to open, view, and schedule appointments with others.
Creating Shared Group CalendarsCalendars can be created in Exchange public folders, thus creating a shared calendar structure for shared resources such as conference rooms, company vehicles, shared projectors, and the like. Through security functions, shared calendars can be set where some users can view the calendar, some users can add information to the calendar, and other users have full control over all aspects of the calendar.
Features in Exchange 2000 That Are Similar to Previous ReleasesIf you are familiar with the Exchange 5.5 product, the following are features that are similar in the Exchange 2000 product.
Client/Server EnvironmentExchange 2000 remains a client/server environment in which the server component handles mail message storage, message routing, common forms storage, and resource administration. The client component handles the user interface aspects of Exchange, which include message creation, message deletion, and sorting and filtering of information. The division of tasks between the client and the server systems provide an infrastructure that distributes core business functions to multiple resources. Through proper design and optimization (covered in Chapter 3, "Planning and Designing an Exchange 2000 Environment," and Chapter 9, "Supporting and Managing Exchange 2000"), all of the subcomponents of Exchange 2000 can be tuned to improve overall system performance and operation.