Microsoft Exchange Server Tutorial

By Cindy Wilkinson

Updated February 10, 2017

Most companies today consider email to be a mission critical element of their business, in order for their employees to be as productive as possible. As these needs have evolved over time, most employees now expect instant access to their communications, regardless of where they are or what type of device they use to access the Internet.

Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft Exchange Server is part of the Microsoft Windows Server line, and is intended to deliver a platform for messaging and collaboration. The primary features of Exchange Server include email, calendaring, contacts and tasks. Exchange Server also provides a platform for mobile and web-based users who need to be able to access their data remotely, as well as support for data storage.

Enhanced Features

Microsoft Exchange Server was first launched in 1996; more recent versions, such as Exchange Server 2007 and recently released Exchange Server 2010, include many enhancements from its original version. Some of these are:

  • Security: Exchange Server now includes anti-spam and anti-virus filtering, as well as encryption technology. This protects users' data from outside intrusion and corruption. - Data Protection: Exchange Servers can be used in a cluster environment, which replicates the data across several servers and guarantees its availability. In this way, there can be no single point of failure; if one server goes down, the other servers will pick up the slack and continue to provide data to users. - Unified Messaging: Exchange Server allows users to receive voice mail, email, and faxes in their mailboxes. In addition, remote users can access their mailboxes from cell phones and other wireless devices. - Improved IT Experience: Exchange Servers are completely scalable, and include 64-bit performance. There is a simplified graphical user interface (GUI) to make administration easy, and an improved deployment and routing process.

Exchange Server Roles

As a network administrator, you can choose which server roles to install on an Exchange server. Server roles are used to logically group specific features of Exchange together, which helps to simplify installation, and gives you the ability to fully customize your Exchange Server to meet your company's specific needs.

The types of server roles include: - Mailbox Server: This server runs on the back end, and hosts mailboxes and public folders. - Unified Messaging Server: This is the middle-tier server that connects a Private Branch Exchange system (PBX, commonly referred to as a phone system) to Exchange 2007. - Client Access Server: This is the middle-tier server that hosts all client protocols, such as Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS), Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4), and Outlook Anywhere. The Client Access Server can also host Web services. - Hub Transport Server: This server is responsible for routing all mail within the Exchange organization. - Edge Transport Server: This server typically sits on the perimeter of the network topology, and is responsible for routing mail into and out of the Exchange organization.

For the End User

Clients that are using Exchange Server to access their data will typically use Microsoft Outlook, part of the Microsoft Office suite. However, there are alternatives. If a client wishes to connect to their email through a website, they can use Outlook Web Access (OWA). And for Mac users, both Microsoft Entourage and Apple Mail can be used to connect to an Exchange Server.