Exchange Design Question- Medium Sized

Posted on 2009-04-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
We currently have a 549 user exchange 03 system setup.  The users are doing pop3/smtp.  The beauty of pop3/smtp is that it has allowed us to avoid investment in an infrastructure in terms of storage.  They draw it all down.

I am about to design a 2007 system and I am trying to decide which route to go.  I was looking at doing webaccess or rpc over https for our customers.

WebAccess RPC over HTTPS would be secure and more contemporary
POP3/SMTP could be secured and more cost effiecient...but is it a very contemporary for a business to use who is growing?

Finally...Traffic....I know how much traffic pop3/smtp generates.  I don't know what the webaccess and rpc over https comparison is.

Any helpful information/articles are welcome.

Thank you, Kristin
Question by:katfpi
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    I really wouldn't recommend POP3 these days. Worst thing being that all your data is stored on some random user's computers - what if somebody leaves the company or loses a local hard disk? Any way to get this data back?

    As for the traffic: It's important to configure your Outlook clients for cached mode (so they keep a local copy of data), then your traffic should only be somewhat higher than with POP3. I am guessing here, but POP3 is a protocol with very little overhead, while RPC, MAPI etc. are a different story. If you are worried about this you probably should run some tests, as this always depends on the usage profile, too.

    LVL 6

    Accepted Solution

    A number of things come to mind:
    1) You need to decide where the data will be - for security reasons and disaster recovery
    2) If you are happy with pop3/smtp you can just do the same in the future - worth considering secure imap/pop3/smtp (SSL).
    3) webaccess is pretty light - just html and no huge attachments when not requested. Downside is that you will require the storage room on the exchange box. A plus is that you can backup everything and a user can't take the entire mailbox with his/her portable and join the competition (bit of an issue with some companies)
    4) personally I'm not such a big fan of the rpc over http stuff, doesn't save much bandwith over lets say vpn and regular outlook with IP filters and it requires certificates (either 3rd party or pki infrastructure). Can't do anything highly secure such as two factor authentication and so on. (client lacks the extensibility for that.)

    If I were in your shoes and the DR/Backup and security was not that important I would secure pop3/smtp - go for secure imap - or use OWA and take on board the worries for DR and extra budget for hardware/storage . Depends on your client base
    LVL 65

    Expert Comment

    I am not going to pull any punches.
    If you are deploying POP3 for your clients, you have just thrown away your entire investment in Exchange.
    If you want to do POP3 then a few standard Windows servers with IIS installed on them will give you the same functionality.

    If you want to use the full feature set of Exchange, including all the collaboration, then POP3 has to go. I would go as far as to say that POP3 has no place in a business email system, unless they are using it for just email (and I do mean just email, no shared calendars, contacts, webmail, Blackberry, backups of the data etc).

    RPC over HTTPS (now know as Outlook Anywhere) is the preferred remote access solution., Yes it has some drawbacks as posted above, but it comes down to individual company choice. The vast majority of users of Outlook Anywhere do not need two factor authentication. Yes it requires certificates - just the one - on the server. Nothing more. It doesn't actually support client certificates because it cannot cope with the certificate prompt.

    It is more bandwidth heavy than POP3, but then you are doing more with the connection. However it isn't that bad - it was designed for hosted Exchange you have to remember.

    I am really surprised that a 500 user company has continued with POP3 for so long. I have seen ROI on the full scale deployment of Exchange 2003 with less than 40 users in less than 9 months, so I wonder what could be achieved with that number of users. ROI in weeks maybe?

    The only other thing I would say is you might want to just hold tight on Exchange 2007 deployment, or at least purchase Software Assurance. Exchange 2010 entered the public beta earlier this week and the OWA is the best yet. Very close to being a complete Outlook replacement (there are some limitations of course). All you would need to do is get the user's existing data in to the new mailboxes, then they can view everything through OWA, or a Windows Mobile device, or if you deployed a BES, Blackberry devices.


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