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Using an Exchange environment, can I allow specific users to manage mail, contacts, etc. through Gmail?

Posted on 2011-09-09
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Sorry about the tricky title... and if this has already been answered, I apologize as I am struggling to find the answer.

Here's what I'm trying to do... I have 90% of my organization using Outlook on desktops in an Exchange environment like any business might do. However, I have a few users (4-6 people) that do not work from the office or on company owned machines.  They currently use OWA to do email, contacts, etc.  The OWA environment is very clunky to me.  Is there a way for these few users to use a gmail or Google apps type environment to do their mail, contacts, etc?  I need all mail to still be handled through my Exchange server (they need the same @mydomain.com addresses everyone else has) and I'd like to be able to manage (from an IT POV) the Google Apps/gmail accounts.  The bottom line is I'm looking for a better user environment than OWA can provide.  Thanks for thoughts/help.
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Question by:jmills6
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:JohnGrunwell
ID: 36509842
Have them use office outlook with the exchange option for outside to company. This is what my users use from home. What version of exchange are you using?
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Expert Comment

by:5g6tdcv4
ID: 36509919
Clients that are not on domain joined machines but have an appropriate version of outlook installed can still use outlook to connect to a corporate exchange server using outlook anywhere.
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Author Comment

by:jmills6
ID: 36510217
Using Exchange 2003 with SBS2003.  Will likely be moving to SBS2011 next year.  Unfortunately, I can't give them Outlook for their personal PCs.  That's why I'm looking for a web-based solution.  Like I said, if OWA wasn't so clunky, I'd be fine with that.  And maybe that's really the best i can do... that's why I'm asking.
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Expert Comment

by:5g6tdcv4
ID: 36510277
exchange uses proprietary protocol mapi/rpc only outlook clients are going to be able to fully access the mailbox.
All other open source/other servers and programs (such as DAVmail or thunderbird) are interfacing through OWA so really no difference for you there. Sorry
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Expert Comment

by:5g6tdcv4
ID: 36510282
Have you looked at imap access from the google account to the exchange server?
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Author Comment

by:jmills6
ID: 36511770
Do you mean pulling the mail off of the server and into Google through imap?  I thought Gmail only pulled through pop.  I guess if these accounts don't need to ever be used in outlook, I could just setup a gmail account and pop the mail.
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Expert Comment

by:Allen Falcon
ID: 36516231
If you sign up for GA for Business, you can setup dual delivery.  Google message continuity is also an option, but has a few limitations.  

Feel free to contact me to run through the details.
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Author Comment

by:jmills6
ID: 36522198
allenfalcon:  Tell me more!
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Accepted Solution

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Allen Falcon earned 2000 total points
ID: 36522461
Google Message Continuity (GMC)

GMC is an add-on to Google Message Security (aka Postini spam/virus protection) that provides web access to email when your in-house Exchange Server or your Internet service is down.  It can also provide a webmail interface for remote/mobile users through the Gmail web interface.

Inbound mail is delivered both your Exchange Server and Google Apps accounts for each user, so there is no delay in processing inbound email.  

On your local network, you will install the GMC Sync Server software on a small server or dedicated PC.  This server connects to your Exchange Server and sync's outbound and folder activity with Gmail.  When you send, delete, or file a message in Exchange, these changes are also made to your Gmail environment, and vice versa.    The sync is not immediate and can run on a 15 to 30 minute delay.

GMC.pdf
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Assisted Solution

by:Allen Falcon
Allen Falcon earned 2000 total points
ID: 36522490
Moving to Google Apps

Another option you have is to move everyone to Google Apps.  Your mobile/remote users will love you for the web interface and native support for email, calendars, and contacts on blackberry, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices.

For your Outlook users, Google offers the ability to connect Outlook to Google Apps using MSFT's proprietary MAPI protocol.  In effect, Outlook thinks that it is communicating with an Exchange server, even though Google Apps is on the back-end.   The user experience is nearly identical to a native Exchange environment.

There are some advantages:
You have Gmail instead of OWA for web access
Redundancy is built in to the architecture
Lower cost

Also, if you have somebody with Outlook on their personal PC's, you can help them to configure it to connect to Google Apps securely if you want.
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Author Closing Comment

by:jmills6
ID: 36555190
Looks like both of the best solutions require me to use Google Messaging Security.  While I'm not sure I'm ready to go that way, they do look like viable options for the future.  Thanks for the help.
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