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Tr!une

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My boss is adamant that KMS is not the solution we need and wants to move to exchange. If there are any exchange admins out there willing to answer some questions, I would like to talk to you regarding the workload, size of the IT staff and general experience.

I am very pleased with KMS for our company, but one minute detail that caused his outlook to be down for several days has my boss deciding to go a different direction.

Like I said, I need to get some feedback on Exchange. we are not that big 100+ employees, and I see exchange as a huge burden without significant return.

A side note that causes much of the grief from my boss leads to these questions. How do your traveling users access their email? If Outlook, how do the send from the road? SMTP? what steps are taken to avoid SMTP traffic from being blocked by hotel firewalls?

Thanks much
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peterj

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KMS VS Exchange

KMS PROs
KMS is cheaper than exchange
KMS is easier to configure/manage
Doesnt require server o/s
Anti-spam & bayes is great

KMS CONS
KOC is MUCH slower then exchange/outlook
KOC doesn't support all Outlook functionality
KOC is extremely buggy at the moment
KOC doesnt have any offline access
Webinterface is still pretty buggy
Requires latest Outlook SP's
Free/Busy data is unreliable
Multiple email accounts not supported in Outlook

Exchange PROS
Exchange is more compatible as it is the industry standard
Outlook licenses are included with Exchange CALS
Can run Outlook offline (fantastic in OL03)
Outlook message rules supported (& More advanced than KMS sieve rules)

Exchange CONS
More difficult to administer/configure
More difficult to backup & restore
Requires active directory
More expensive

[Updated on: Tue, 13 September 2005 02:34]

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pwhodges

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Tr!une wrote on Tue, 13 September 2005 01:10

How do your traveling users access their email? If Outlook, how do the send from the road? SMTP?

At work I run Exchange for about 30, of whom about half are regularly out of the office (I run KMS at home, providing mail for a dozen or so friends and relatives); I specified this because the main stated requirement was for the users to have Outlook, and to use its groupware facilities.

The mobile users are set up to use Outlook connecting by RPC over HTTPS (requires Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003 SP1), which avoids all firewall issues; Outlook chooses whether to use local RPC or RPC over HTTPS for itself. They also use cached mode (as do in the static users) so that they can work offline and connect to update and send at their convenience. When they can't connect their machines to a remote network, they use Outlook Web Access instead, which is an excellent webmail system.

The downsides?

Cost - not an issue here, as I am looking at academic pricing :-)

Missing or broken facilities (some Exchange, some Outlook), especially for staff handling more than one mail account - I use (paid-for) add-ons to handle invalid recipients and placing sent mail in in the sent folder of the user it was sent from(!); there is a registry patch to put deleted mail in the deleted folder of the account it was deleted from.

Exchange doesn't let you see the text of bounces - it gives you its own sanitised version; like it once told me "mail rejected because of server misconfiguration", when the refusing server had actually said "mail refused because we have blacklisted your server". I know no way round that.

Tricky setup in some areas (especially RPC over HTTPS - make sure your client machines have your root certificate if you don't buy a public one, and watch out if you have multiple GCs), and occasional completely inexplicable errors (I tried getting MS support to look at one, and I don't think they ever even saw what I was telling them was wrong).

Exchange is not a natural system for a multiple domain setup (though I have half a dozen in there).

I haven't played with the new built-in spam filter, as I run ASSP (a transparent anti-spam proxy - the best of all, I say) in front of it.
Quote:

what steps are taken to avoid SMTP traffic from being blocked by hotel firewalls?

For my home system (also at work, but it's not currently used), I accept authorised SMTP on port 587 (defined for SMTP message submission), which removes that concern.

Paul

[Updated on: Tue, 13 September 2005 12:12]

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rhunter

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We're using Exchange 2000 Standard with around 100 users. We've wanted for a long time to abandon it which is what led us to KMS. The standard version has a 16GB database limit. I think this may be increased for Exchange 2003 std to 75GB with the next service pack. I dont know if its happened yet or not. I dont know if they'll do the same for Exchange 2000. The Enterprise version has no database size limit, but is very expensive and user CALs dont transfer from the standard version. You dont ever want to hit the database limit with Exchange. It corrupts the database and you end up trying to restore from a backup which is a procedure that has to be followed exactly or it wont work. Maybe there's a better way to resurrect the database. With 100 users all trying to keep every email they ever received, you really cant live under a 16GB limit, 75 GB would be a lot better, but its still a limit that you would eventually reach. Exchange will let you restrict mailbox size for each user which is what you have to do and the users have to police their own mailboxes to keep the size down. It wouldnt be such a problem if Exchange would simply stop and issue an error when it reaches the limit or gets close.

Exchange has no built-in antivirus capability. I think 2003 added a spam filter of sorts, but it doesnt rival other solutions. If you want AV or better spam capability, you have to use plugins which may destabilize Exchange. We originally used Exchange 2000 with the SAV plugin. Granted these were older versions, but we had trouble with memory leaks to the point the machine would have to be rebooted once a week. In light of the ongoing issues with KMS, we're currently using it as a front end for Exchange on a separate machine handling the AV and spam. This has worked well so far with Exchange 2000 running alone on its server.

Exchange is not very intuitive to administrate. For instance, setting the IP's that are allowed to relay is buried fairly deep under the SMTP connector menus. With KMS and others like it, its right on the surface and well marked. If you're going to be stuck with Exchange, some formal training and a lot of book reading will be helpful.

Exchange stores mail in a database not in a flat file system like KMS. As emails come and go, they are stored in transaction log files which are later rolled into the main databases. This is what leads to complexity with backups and restores. You need to study this carefully, test it and have a written procedure in place in the event you need to restore it.

With that said, Exchange can be rock solid stable. Outlook connects with it well. The web client is fast and resembles Outlook. Since we isolated it on its own server and got rid of the plugins, we havent had any trouble with it at all for about six months. However, given the difficulty we've had with it over the years, I consider it to be a fairly large burden for an application that simply needs to send and receive email, handle calendaring and collaboration. Vendors like Kerio and others are on the right track. Hopefully they can succeed in providing stable software.
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peterj

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I certainly agree on administration - KMS beats Exchange hands down.

Also you are correct that a 16GB limit is a pain (Although it will be 75GB soon) at least Exchange can handle this volume comfortably...!

Using KMS & the KOC if you have more than 100 messages in any folder there are serious delays even scrolling through the message list.

Also the Exchange IMF (anti-spam) is pretty good - at least comparable to Kerio's anti-spam accuracy.

As for antivirus - Any email AV solution is far more likely to integrate with Exchange rather than a smaller company's product like Kerio's KMS.
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nickrooster

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Quote:

Exchange is more compatible as it is the industry standard


The industry standard would be "SMTP" which at last check both support. :-D


Are you talking about Outlook again?
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nickrooster

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Our company hit the limit with Exchange 2000 standard - this prompted our switch as well. We did not have database corruption - the service just went down with little messages to that effect and I had to restart the service in such a fashion that it could not send or receive mail (thus not make the database any larger).

But yeah, I have heard that this can corrupt items. Corruption in Exchange or any database-based mail server is not cool, and if it is a proprietary system, even more so. Flat file system for storing mails is quite good. Don't mind the proprietary bit because Kerio works.

However, most of Peter's points are spot-on, some are silly though, like needing the latest service pack for Outlook (why is that not installed anyway?), and not needing a server OS (why run it at all?). But basically, the KOC is *the* difference between Exchange and KMS. The KOC behaves differently than Exchange and can therefore cause consternation when the switch happens. Testing and patience on the admin's part are required. Let your users know what the differences are and how to avoid trouble.

Exchange is *very* costly. According to Peter, some of the costs are brought down with the newest version of Outlook and Exchange, but in 2k, you had to buy the software, the CAL, the licenses for Outlook, and the licenses for 2k server, and the desktop client licenses. Pretty pricey pretty fast, especially when you use the Enterprise version.

From an admin perspective, Peter again is right. Things move much quicker in KMS than in Exchange (easier to find your settings) and things are plain logically laid out. Once you know where the settings are in Exchange, I found it helpful to make notes to myself. 'Cause they are usually in the place you least expect them to be.

From a client perspective, they only want what works. Be sure to do an eval of both and pick the one that is right for you. My users like the webmail interface for Kerio better than the OWA interface.

One of the biggest drawbacks for me was that we had to use busted 2k server to host the email, without hope of switching to something stable (Linux). For a while I was going to set up Postfix and Courier, but then I stumbled on several e-mail solutions and Kerio came out on top.
-Nick
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Tr!une

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I am very happy with KMS, but I don't make the final decision. So I have to look at alternatives. We are currently looking at Hosted Exchange solutions. They look interesting, but I am skeptical.

Thanks for all the input
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