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Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 : Mailbox management - Seeking perfection halts progress (part 1)

3/31/2014 4:16:13 AM

It’s easy to criticize the appearance and functionality of EAC by saying that EMC was so much better and more powerful. This statement is doubtful in any case, but the real point is that MMC-based consoles and the operating model they embrace, which is to log on to servers to perform management tasks, is rapidly becoming an outdated mode for Windows server administration, especially in large deployments. Microsoft has acknowledged that this is the case by incorporating so much potential for automation through Microsoft Windows PowerShell in Windows Server 2012.

Exchange adopted Windows PowerShell as the basis for management much earlier than any other Microsoft server application and then went on to introduce browser-based management. EAC combines the two procedures as shown in Figure 1. This console is different in terms of layout and capability from previous consoles, but it is capable of running on many types of devices, from Apple iPads to Surface RT tablets to Android smart phones. The parts of EAC that aren’t quite as functional as previous consoles will improve through future software releases, just as any other piece of software improves over time. In the interim, EMS is always available to handle the most difficult and complex tasks.

A screen shot of the Exchange 2013 Administration Center (EAC) positioned in the Recipients section with a set of mailboxes listed.

Figure 1. The Exchange Administration Center

Figure 1 shows how EAC organizes its view of management of the Exchange organization into the following major parts:

  • Recipients. Management of mailboxes, groups, contacts, room mailboxes, shared mailboxes, and mailbox migration (move).

  • Permissions. Management of RBAC-controlled administrative and user roles and Outlook Web App policies.

  • Compliance Management. Management of in-place hold (for mailboxes), discovery management, retention tags and policies, mailbox and administrator auditing, data loss prevention, and journaling.

  • Organization. Management of federated trusts for sharing with other organizations, third-party apps for use with Outlook Web App, and address lists.

  • Protection. Management of the Exchange 2013 anti-malware filter.

  • Mail Flow. Management of transport rules, delivery reports, accepted domains, email address policies, receive connectors, and send connectors.

  • Mobile. Management of ActiveSync quarantined devices, device access rules, and ActiveSync mailbox access policies.

  • Public folders. Management of modern public folders and public folder mailboxes. Management of traditional public folders is done through EMS or the Public Folder Management Console. You can’t install or create traditional public folders if you haven’t used them prior to the deployment of Exchange 2013.

  • Unified Messaging. Management of dial plans and IP gateways.

  • Servers. Management of Mailbox and Client Access Server (CAS), Database Availability Groups (DAGs), databases, virtual directories, and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates.

  • Hybrid. Management of the connection between Exchange on-premises and Exchange Online (Office 365).

Like EMC, EAC is capable of operating in a multi-forest environment, assuming that the necessary trusts are in place to allow authenticated cross-forest access.

Inside Out Some missing pieces of administrator functionality

Some functionality has been lost in the transition from EMC to EAC. A possibility exists that some will reappear in a future release or update that Microsoft issues for Exchange 2013. You might consider that losing any functionality means that EAC represents a step backward when compared to previous consoles and, on a feature-by-feature basis, this feeling is probably true. However, Microsoft will gradually whittle down the list of missing features and increase EAC functionality as it releases updates for Exchange 2013. For example, Exchange 2013 RTM CU1 reintroduced the ability for groups to manage groups. However, EAC offers better coverage in parts than other consoles. For instance, compliance management is generally better served in EAC than it is in the Exchange 2010 EMC, EAC includes the ability to import mailbox data to and export mailbox data from PSTs, and EAC includes alerts (see Figure 2) to notify administrators about important events. None of these options are available in EMC.

Alerts are a new feature supported in EAC. This screen shot shows EAC flagging three alerts to the administrator. Two tell him that export to PST jobs have completed; the last shows that an export job failed.

Figure 2. EAC Alerts

Many also prefer the way EAC presents information required to accomplish tasks because they think the EAC approach is easier to understand than the multistage wizard structure often employed by EMC. Building transport rules is one example of when EAC is arguably easier to understand than EMC.

Like EMC, there are always parts of the administrative task list that can’t be handled through an option presented through the graphical user interface (GUI). These tasks are usually in the “rare and uncommon” category and require a reasonable degree of product knowledge before they can be addressed. For example, there’s no option to view mailboxes the Store has quarantined because of a suspected corrupt item. Likewise, no option exists to run the Store fix-up-in-place cmdlets to resolve minor logical corruptions in a database’s tables. You might never find options for these tasks presented through a GUI, if only because it’s a way of underlining that you really need to know what you’re doing when you take risks.

Other -----------------
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Defining Email Addresses (part 3) - Email Address Policies - Creating a New Email Address Policy
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Defining Email Addresses (part 2) - Email Address Policies - Changing an Existing Policy
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Defining Email Addresses (part 1) - Accepted Domains
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Basics of Recipient Management - Exchange Recipients
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 7) - Using iSCSI Initiator - Creating volumes
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 6) - Using iSCSI Initiator - Establishing a connection
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 5) - Using iSCSI Initiator - Discovering targets
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 4) - Using iSCSI Initiator - Configuring iSCSI Initiator
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 3) - Configuring iSCSI Target Server - Creating iSCSI virtual disks
- Windows Server 2012 : File Services and Storage - Configuring iSCSI storage (part 2) - Configuring iSCSI Target Server - Installing the iSCSI Target Server role
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