With the release of Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft has created a robust email server platform that includes many new and improved features. The improvements and enhancements are most noticeable in the areas of administration, email access, security, and reliability. Although both versions of Exchange Server 2003, Standard and Enterprise, include the improved and enhanced features, there are features specific only to Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise. Let's take a look at some of these features.
Improved Administration, Deployment, and Management Tools
Microsoft made a concerted effort to improve and enhance the administration, deployment, and migration tools in this release of Exchange. The new tools include updated wizards and user interfaces that make installing, configuring, and maintaining Exchange easier. Exchange System Manager, ExDeploy, Internet Mail Wizard, and the Active Directory Account Cleanup Wizard are a few examples of the improved tools included in Exchange 2003.
Updated Outlook Web Access
Exchange 2003 includes an updated version of Outlook Web Access (OWA) that evens the messaging playing field with the full Outlook 2003 client in terms of the look, feel, and usability of the web interface. OWA, developed in conjunction with Exchange 2003, has features that complement Exchange and allow users to access their mailboxes and public folders via their web browser. Because the interfaces are almost identical, end users will immediately be comfortable when using Outlook Web Access or Outlook 2003.
Microsoft has included an updated version of the virus scanning application programming interface (VSAPI). Introduced in Exchange 5.5 SP3 (version 1.0) and updated in Exchange 2000 SP1 (version 2.0), VSAPI was updated to version 2.5 in Exchange 2003. VSAPI provides proactive on-demand and background monitoring of incoming email messages and their attachments for viruses, worms, Trojans, and the like. Unlike previous versions, the updated virus-scanning API (VSAPI 2.5) now includes new features that enable Exchange-aware antivirus software to run on servers that do not host mailboxes such as front-end or bridgehead servers. VSAPI also includes the capability to delete infected messages and notify senders of infected messages. These features help IT departments maintain a healthy network and allow administrators to focus on keeping users productive.
Enhanced Reliability, Backup, and Recovery via Volume Shadow Copy Service and Mailbox Recovery Center
As the code name for Exchange 2003, Titanium, suggests, Microsoft had reliability and availability in its sights when it developed its latest version of Exchange. In conjunction with its Trustworthy Computing Initiative, Exchange leverages the Windows 2003 server Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which makes point-in-time snapshots of data for easier backup-and-restore functionality. The snapshots or shadow copy backups are exact copies of files or volumes at a specific point in time. After the snapshot is completed, it is backed up via a backup application. Microsoft also provides a new feature, the Mailbox Recovery Center (MRC), which makes recovering multiple deleted mailboxes easier than ever. Instead of connecting to mailboxes individually, as required in the Exchange 2000 System Manager, the MRC in Exchange 2003 allows you to connect to and recover multiple mailboxes simultaneously on one server, even if the mailboxes are located on different servers.
Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Specific Features
In addition to the features previously covered, the Enterprise Edition of Exchange Server 2003 includes support for the following: