GSX Blog

Concerns for Messaging Admins: Part 1

Posted by Carl Drechsel on Fri, May 25, 2012

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Ok, over the last couple of weeks I’ve gathered some feedback on some of the main concerns facing Exchange administrators in today’s IT landscape. As I mentioned previously I will be hosting a session at TechEd in Orlando in a couple of weeks and I thought it would be a great opportunity to reach out to the community for some additional information. After some deliberation I’ve identified roughly eight items that seems to account for most administrators concerns and their time in general, today I will expand on three of them.

Day to Day Operations

Exchange engineers know that “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.  While system failures often put a wrench in what you’ve hoped to accomplish in any given day, it’s often the little things that take up the most time. Fortunately major outages are not a typical occurrence but small daily requests certainly add up and take administrators away from more important things like maintenance and architecture.

How do unexpected day-to-day administrative tasks derail your day?

The Evolution of Exchange

Exchange has come a long way from the early days to 5.5 to 2003 to 2010.  Each version has been more efficient than the previous however a slew of new features have accompanied each.  Let take a quick look at how it’s evolved over the years.

Exchange Server 5.0 was a major improvement over the previous version bringing with it the Exchange Administrator Console, an Internet Mail Connector and what later became OWA. Exchange 5.5 Enterprise also introduced clustering.

Exchange 2000 brought improvements in both clustering and database sizes and also included support for instant message, however it required Active Directory to be deployed as well.

In Exchange 2003 Microsoft introduced enhanced disaster recovery features, Exchange Active-Sync and anti-spam filtering methods.

Exchange 2007 introduced a whole new method for cluster and high availability, the architecture a complete difference from 2003. In addition Exchange 2007 introduced new server roles including Unified Messaging, upgraded spam features and included the Exchange Management Shell.

The release of Exchange 2010 seen an upgrade again in clustering but also brought with it a host of new features and functionality. Here’s a brief list:

  • Outlook Web App
  • Role Based Access Control
  • Shadow Redundancy
  • Client Access Centralization
  • Archiving
  • Compliance

The evolution of Exchange has brought about many improvements in enterprise message and with it a great deal of new functionality. Over the years it has been a bit of a challenge to keep up with each release. Add in some of the fringe messaging components such as archiving and compliance and engineers definitely have their hands full.

What in the evolution of Exchange has impacted you the most? How?

Spam

Spam as a nuisance to an Exchange administrator’s daily life really depends on how sensitive your company is to receiving it. By now I think most people regard spam as a fact of life, it’s a constant battle that seems to have no end. Spammers are willing to try anything to get the message through. From an admins perspective this can fall into the day to day operations category but it has the potential to wreak such havoc that I though it should have its own entry.  I remember at least one (ok many) occasion(s) when some image spam would get by with a particularly offensive message and it was the messaging team’s responsibility to “make sure not a single message more” gets through. At that time we were getting ~1,000,000 messages a day (90% spam) and we searched and found that 120 some messages got through. Well the argument that our spam solution was still 99.99% effective even with these getting through didn’t seem to matter much. That cost about three days and there really wasn’t anything we could do about it. We even had to defend our spam vendor as their SLA was 99%. Point is, it was a headache and it kept us from value added tasks….

What has your experience been with spam lately?

Next week I will post a brief description of three more issues on admins minds; in the meantime consider what I posted today, how have these items impacted your company and what have you done to keep distractions at bay?

 

Tags: Exchange 2010, messaging and collaboration, Exchange reporting, Lotus Domino Monitoring, spam, Exchange monitoring, lotus domino, m