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Best email protocol to use to serve everybody?

Posted on 2010-09-09
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We are running a Microsoft Exchange 2003 server.  As of now, we have yet to open up the server so outside users can connect with an external email client, or a smartphone.  We're looking to roll something out, but we're a little perplexed as to which protocol(s) to use.  If posslble, we'd like to have one solution that serves everybody.  We've looked at ActiveSync, but that leaves out Blackberry users (unless they're willing to pay for a 3rd party client, which we don't want to suggest).  What should we use?

Also, would it be best to implement a second server?  Also also, do we make the new front-end server 2003, or would a 2010 server work ok with 2003?
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Question by:mgudites1
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by:dmarinenko
ID: 33640456
You could just enable web e-mail and then connect all the smartphones through http
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33640475
Assuming you're talking about OWA, we've already got that...we want people to be able to use their own mail clients (Blackberry, Apple Mail, etc etc.).
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PcGod718 earned 250 total points
ID: 33640537
1.  leave all the platforms the same.. if ur gonna run 2003 stick with 2003..
2.  outside users should use activesync like normal.
3. for those devices that dont like activesync, you need to decide if you wanna deal with pop/imap/3rd party.
4. in a multiplatform world, there isnt anything that works with everything thats secure.
5. once you decide to open it up, i would then recommend creating a small front-end server, just so u dont have to muck around on the backend.

in my experience, and how i have things setup is as follows.

Exchange 2003.
Front-end 2003 server that handles all the routing
SMTP/Activesync  ONLY.. thats it.. no pop, imap, nothing.


this serves EVERYONE except blackberry users.  this has always been the case, as blackberry damn near extorted you to install BES server which cost quite a bit.  to keep in competition, blackberry has put out the BLACKBERRY EXPRESS server, which is FREE.

I havent implemented the BESexpress yet, but i have a few of my tech buddies happily running it now.  so all the BB fanboys will be happy.

as a note, i have BB, Droids, Iphones, Nokia, Samsung type mobile devices as well as laptops, pads and crap like that on my remote access list.  they all work.
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by:PcGod718
ID: 33640737
saw your last comment..
if you want people to use their OWN CLIENTS that do not interface native with EXCHANGE or ACTIVESYNC  then i think your only solution is to run a POP/SMTP.  Not many peeps doing this as everything is headed to native activesync.

if webmail is a bit of a dog for them, you may want to consider exch 2010 as the webmail functions are almost identical to true outlook.
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33640769
Thanks -- upgrading to 2010 is definitely in the pipeline.  For now it's mostly people who want to connect to us on their iPhones, Droids, or Blackberrys.  Turning on ActiveSync seems like the obvious solution, it's just those damned Blackberrys :)
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33640817
Just out of curiosity, what about secure-IMAP?  Are we asking for trouble doing that -- is it Smartphone compatible?
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33640891
We've looked at ActiveSync, but that leaves out Blackberry users (unless they're willing to pay for a 3rd party client, which we don't want to suggest).  What should we use?

>> you can just turn on Exchange ActiveSync for all users.
Blackberry will use a proprietary protocol to download emails. If that doesnt work (because of firewall / other issues) BB will use OWA to download emails.
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33640909
I think its better not to have IMAP/POP3 turned on.
let everyone be streamlined on exchange.
For users accessing form outside the lan - have the clients configured with RPC/HTTPS

managing pop3 (sent items in users outlook - no way to back it up), is nuts.

but that's > IMHO.

what about secure-IMAP?  Are we asking for trouble doing that -- is it Smartphone compatible?
>> It works, but question is what's the point.
Smartphones will use pop3 or activesync.
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33640920
"Blackberry will use a proprietary protocol to download emails. If that doesnt work (because of firewall / other issues) BB will use OWA to download emails."

I don't understand...what protocol and how would it utilize OWA?
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33640945
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33640988
Those solutions are related to the Blackberry Enterprise Server.  We can't put our students on the BES...this needs to be something they do independently, and that we don't have to purchase a license for.  PcGod718 mentioned BES Express, which is an option.  I'm just wondering if I need to do both BES Express + ActiveSync, or, if I could just do Secure IMAP period, assuming everything is compatible with it.

I know I'm being nitpicky but we're trying to come up with the easiest solution for everybody.  
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by:duffman76
ID: 33641027
There is really no best solution for every handheld other than connect through vpn and their phone web browser.  You may want to look at this company http://www.good.com/.  It provides the ability for any handheld to connect to your environment except for bes.  If you combine that with bes express it may be the best solution.  If you are wanting a no cost solution then go with the active sync and bes express solution.

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by:sunnyc7
sunnyc7 earned 250 total points
ID: 33641034
if you have students and they want to access email on their blackberry - they will probably have their own BIS accounts through their cell provider.
You will have one less thing to worry about.

Those diagrams are for your ref. purposes only - and it describes the message flow.
--
If i am managing students, I will only configure exchange, and allow activesync for users to get their emails. No POP/ No IMAP.

With these settings:
a) Exchange web mail will work.
b) iPhone Droids motorolas Windows mobile will work.
Windows mobile 6.1 will require a SSL certificate for mail.domain.com - to match your mail.domain.com mail server - self signed wont work.
c) Blackberry's will work too - using BIS (through their cellphone provider) or OWA

You dont have to open-up anything else for this setup to work.

thanks
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33641052
Bes Express = Installation / maintenance / Troubleshooting

Why bother - when the students are getting their Blackberry from their Cellphone provider through BIS

check this out

https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=sprint
https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=mycingular
https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=vzw
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by:PcGod718
ID: 33641137
i run good here for my old treos.  nice program.. same problem as BES.. it costs $$$.. especially since Motorola bought them out a few years ago.

i would go with ACTIVESYNC, no matter what.  if you don't want BES, the BB's can get EMAIL and i THINK contacts, with the default connection (it tunnels thru the webmail/OMA interface on the blackberry) but they definitely don't get a calendar.

fyi, if BB doesnt pull a rabbit outta the hat, they are a dying company.  iphone/Droid are the front-runners.  dunno where windowsphone 7 will wind up, but u better believe they are gonna force activesync down ur throat and not S-Imap.

that said, i don't know much about S-Imap other than its been around for a bit, and i don't see anyone actually using it mainstream.  

so, to conclude.. for now :)
1. activesync    YES
2. pop/imap/s-imap NO
3. webmail/OWA/OMA  YES (already enabled)
4. Front-end server    YES (in time, perhaps in rollout to 2010)
5. understand there is rarely a complete solution to make everyone happy, so you get the solution that MAKES YOU HAPPY (since ur the poor fool that has to support this mess!)
6. download the BESexpress and install it on a VM or some lil doink machine and test it out.  its free, and it does work.
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33641240
<-- Seconds point # 5 above.
>> you get the solution that MAKES YOU HAPPY (since ur the poor fool that has to support this mess!)

Pont #4
FE Servers
Also also, do we make the new front-end server 2003, or would a 2010 server work ok with 2003?
>> 2003/2010 will co-exist.
It's better to spend money on Exchange 2010 than on a FE server for 2003 - IMHO.
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33641342
"Bes Express = Installation / maintenance / Troubleshooting

Why bother - when the students are getting their Blackberry from their Cellphone provider through BIS

check this out

https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=sprint
https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=mycingular
https://bis.na.blackberry.com/html?brand=vzw"

Sorry, but I'm not understanding you.  I thought the BIS was just the vehicle for connecting a Blackberry to an email account.  We'd still have to have the right protocols enabled on our end, and according to something stated above, having the BB go through OWA they wouldn't get their calendar or (possibly) contacts.
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33641348
"so, to conclude.. for now :)
1. activesync    YES
2. pop/imap/s-imap NO
3. webmail/OWA/OMA  YES (already enabled)
4. Front-end server    YES (in time, perhaps in rollout to 2010)
5. understand there is rarely a complete solution to make everyone happy, so you get the solution that MAKES YOU HAPPY (since ur the poor fool that has to support this mess!)
6. download the BESexpress and install it on a VM or some lil doink machine and test it out.  its free, and it does work.
Accept Multiple So"

I think I'm leaning towards this...ActiveSync and BES Express.
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33641430
Sorry, but I'm not understanding you.  I thought the BIS was just the vehicle for connecting a Blackberry to an email account.  We'd still have to have the right protocols enabled on our end, and according to something stated above, having the BB go through OWA they wouldn't get their calendar or (possibly) contacts.

>> You dont need anything to be enabled from your end for BIS to work.
Just have Exchange / OWA and ActiveSync working.

BES Express - another piece of software to manage, when you can do without it.
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by:PcGod718
ID: 33641794
sunnyc is correct in that you dont need any special ports open for BIS to work.

keep in mind that there may be an additional fee for your students to use the BIS from their provider. last i heard it was like $10 fee across the carriers.. it may have been removed/waived by now, but you should check..

from what i've read up on the BIS, what happening is that RIM is using their own BES server and having the wireless carriers offer up the service at a fee.

of course the carriers are charging for everything these days....
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33641812
Also BIS will sync only emails - not contacts and calendars.

depends on your requirement and what features you want to open up for your students.
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by:PcGod718
ID: 33641913
well, if bis can only sync emails, you dont need bis at all.  the blackberry will tunnel in thru OMA and get your emails all on its own.  again, contacts MIGHT come, calendar will NOT.

if its just students, they may have no need for calendaring or "company" contacts.. so it might just work out well for you in the end.
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33641943
I use GCalendarSync with BIS

Outlook > syncs to Google Calendar using GCalendarSync
http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=89955

I use Google Sync on Blackberry to download calendar.
http://www.google.com/mobile/sync/

syncs in 5 mins.
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by:PcGod718
ID: 33642040
thats the current workaround for most droid users with old android sets *and a computer in the domain*,

but now you are asking "students" and anyone else to manage their own email/calendar settings from a computer that may not even have access to the domain at all.
now they need
   a computer in the domain (or with acecss)
     running outlook
      logged in as that user 100% of the time (unless they wanna do the 3 finger shuffle everytime)
        with another program (gcalendarsync) to worry about

so ummm.. hows that BES Express looking now?  :)

i joke, i joke!!!  :)  

but as techs, sometimes we think some manual solutions to be very easy & simple but to  the masses its like" uhhh what, click what?  type what?? why do i have to do all this just to get my darned contacts?  my friend has an iphone and it all just works!!!  "
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by:sunnyc7
ID: 33642079
Yeah
About that
The human element.

Bes express it is
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by:mgudites1
ID: 33644974
Thanks everyone for your input, we really appreciate it -- definitely helped clear things up.
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