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Configure Exchange 2003 to allow clients to connect VIA HTTP(S)

Posted on 2007-12-01
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
Hi,
I have my Windows 2003 SBS setup to allow clients to access OWA and they access the Exchange data from Outlook 2003 while they're in the office.  I want the client to be able to access the Exchange data when they're outside of the office also but I don't want to setup a VPN.  I have seen Exchange setup to allow clients to "Connect to Microsoft Exchange using HTTP".  I see in Outlook that connection settings for Exchange can be set to "Use this URL to connect to my proxy server for Exchange".

My question is two-part.  

1.  What are the steps I need to take to make my 2003 Exchange server configured to allow the clients to connect to it VIA HTTPS?

2.  Is this method secure enough or should I spend the time and money for a VPN?  

Thanks for your advice!
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Question by:Matt Kendall
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lesterawilson3 earned 1000 total points
ID: 20390361
You need to set up HTTPS over RPC on your Exchange server.  Some good articles here:

http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/outlookrpchttp.html
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/833401
http://www.petri.co.il/configure_rpc_over_https_on_a_single_server.htm

Strongly recommend you get a SSL certificate for your Exchange server.  You'll also need to punch a hole in your file wall to pass port 443 traffic to your Exchange server.

Finally, you want to make sure you have DNS settings for your Exchange server set on the client end (either through a local DNS service or the hosts file in %system_root%\drivers\etc)

Once it's up and running - it works quite well and allows for full Exchange / Outlook functionality as though you were sitting on the local network where the server is located.
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by:Sembee
Sembee earned 1000 total points
ID: 20390926
As this is SBS you should not be configuring this by hand. The wizards should do everything for you. There is a link on the RWW web site that takes you to a page which explains how to configure the client.
Officially you should be able to set it up without having to purchase an SSL certificate, but I do recommend a commercial SSL certificate, either from RapidSSL or from GoDaddy so that you have a better end-user experience and no warnings.

However one point from above - DO NOT use a hosts file. This will cause you problems because a hosts file can only have the internal or external IP address, which could mean that Outlook only works inside or outside of the network, not in both locations.

Simon.
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