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Posted on 2006-11-22
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Hi Everyone,

We have an Exchange server and is using most of the benefits (shared contacts, calendars, etc) ..
We want to open the Exchange server on the internet and want the best and most secure option available ..

I believe opening Exchange for "full Exchange features" will become too slow over the internet and could be more susceptible for virus and hacking attacks.

A thought is to open Exchange only for I-MAP from the internet, and only use the full functionality (contacts, calendars, etc) over the local-LAN.

I have the following questions, which should be able to help us determining the best solution:
1.  Is it possible to run "full-Exchange" features over the internet without sacrificing security and operation-speed?
2.  I read an article where Microsoft suggests a "front-end" and "back-end" Exchange server - for security ..
For which scenario will this be advised?
3.  Will Exchange be happy with I-MAP access (from the internet) and normal Exchange access from within the office?  Which ports should we open on the firewall for I-MAP to be operational?

Any help and advise will be highly appreciated.

Regards, Rupert

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Question by:Rupert Eghardt
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WMIF earned 84 total points
ID: 17999695
what version are you running?  i just recently got my 2003 exchange configured to run rpc over https and it is working beautifully.  the clients dont even notice a difference.  do you have the outlook web access enabled?
http://amset.info/exchange/rpc-http.asp
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by:Rupert Eghardt
ID: 17999776
We are running version 2003
I haven't configured Outlook web access as yet, if I remember correctly, you need a front-end server to do this securely?

We configured terminal services in the meantime, but the problem users have, is that they have to be online all the time to work on e-mail messages.  They want to be able to compose and read-messages offline, and only go online to receive & send ...

And then the other problem with TS access is that they can't upload and download files, as they are bound to the remote session all the time.

Any idea how we can overcome these issues?
Regards, Rupert
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by:Sembee
Sembee earned 83 total points
ID: 17999803
IMAP doesn't really give you the full experience of Exchange. While it is better than POP3 access it is still pretty poor.

Microsoft always suggest a frontend/backend, but that is not required and isn't deployed for security. Microsoft usually suggest an ISA server to increase the security of the network. It is perfectly possible for a single server to be deployed in a secure manner without compromising your data.

You haven't said how many users you will be running over the internet connection, but with cached mode the load is very small. I have sites where I am running 30 or more users over a very slow connection. I can run cached mode over dial up, so if you have broadband you should be able to support many more users.

Simon.
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by:WMIF
ID: 18000024
yup, ive got 2003 in single server and havent had any problems.
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by:Rupert Eghardt
ID: 18001514
Hi Simon,

I think the idea is now take shape.

IMAP:
I understand that I-MAP doesn't give the experience of the full Exchange invironment, but could work for just reading mail, viewing your mailbox on Exchange, etc?

OWA:
Outlook Web-Access will give you the full functionality, and the users will hardly realize the difference.

ISSUE:
The issue we still have is that users don't want to be connected all the time, while composing new message, etc.
I.o.w. they want to work off-line and online dial-in to Send / Receive.


What I gather from the information above, a user will have to be connected to the internet to use the Outlook Web-Access functionality?

I-MAP then seems the way to go, or is there another way to have Outlook synchronising with Exchange from the internet, without using a web-interface.

The user should be able to dial-up, connect, download messages, disconnect.  Do what ever they need to, for as many hours as they want ... then connect to send and retrieve mail.

The only thing I am not certain of, is how to configure Outlook to use the same mailbox, for "local Exchange connectivity" and "remote IMAP connectivity"  .. so that the user will have as little intervention as possible with the switch from "local" to "remote / internet" access.

Please advise

Regards, Rupert
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by:budchawla
budchawla earned 83 total points
ID: 18002925
Hi rupertvz,

the functionality you mention is available if users are connecting from their own laptops / desktops (via Outlook, as if they were on the LAN).

As WMIF mentioned, the feature is called RPC over HTTPS and allows Outlook to securely connect to Exchange and sync mailboxes, calendars, contacts etc even if the user isn't in the office. This will happen wherever they are, whenever they are connected to the internet, so they can compose messages offline etc.

This is a much better alternative to IMAP, since it provides complete functionality and is seamless. You can leave the laptops set to RPC/HTTPS even when they are in the office, so you don't need to reconfigure PCs.

This was WMIF's link to Sembee's page :-) What am I doing here? :-)
http://amset.info/exchange/rpc-http.asp 

You might want to look at the microsoft KB article "How to configure RPC over HTTP in Exchange Server 2003" at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/833401 and "Configuring Outlook 2003 for RPC Over HTTP" at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ork2003/HA011402731033.aspx 

Good luck!
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Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 18003952
Exchange has been built with remote working in mind.

OWA does require a connection all the time while you write the email, but Outlook configured to use RPC over HTTPS and cached mode does not. I have written emails on planes before, landed, connected my laptop to the internet and then sent the emails. I have a full copy of my mailbox on the laptop and can make changes to my calendar and contacts. Next time I connect to the internet, those changes are synchronised to my mailbox on the Exchange server.

I would suggest that you try setting up some of the features that have been outlined and experience it for yourself. Working remotely with Exchange and having the full feature set is not the problem that you might think.

Simon.
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