Outlook 2k3/Exchange 2k3 access for laptop users

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Microsoft Exchange
I will note that we are in development of our new Exchange 2k3 rollout, moving from using an external ISP to Exchange. I am trying to determine the best method for my mobile users to access their email via Outlook 2k3. I will be setting up OWA (will SSL) however I know some users will wish to use their Outlook client regardless. I evaluated RPC over HTTP and unfortunately we do not have the proper infrastructure at this time. Several users are running Win2k still, not XP, and our global catalog server (along with our entire domain) is Win 2k Server, with several Windows 2k3 member servers. (Exchange 2k3 is on a Win 2k3 stand. member server.) I assume our next bet is to use POP3 or IMAP, but what kind of impact would that have on the users? (I.E. would they have to switch to a different 'account' in outlook when outside the internal network?) I would prefer to make it seemless as possible, but the rollout to the 2k3 domain won't happen for at least another 6 months. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Depending on your budget, Terminal Services might be a good compromise. When they’re in the office, they use Outlook and when thet’re on the road, they use Terminal Services with Outlook installed. Granted, this can get to be very expensive to do and there are a lot of different ways to do it (RAS Pool, Citrix Secure clients, SSL, Two-factor authentication, Certificate services, etc).

The best alternatives that I see are as follows:
1) RAS Pool (no joy – as Remote Outlook can be extremely slow)
2) SSL VPN (We have used Whale communcations before with good success) Here’s a link to a Network World evaluation:

http://www.networkworld.com/reviews/2004/0112revmain.html

3) IPSec VPN (more difficult to setup and likely to be more expensive than an SSL VPN)

Take Care,

Wayne

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  • Tbagnation
    Use a Front End/Back End Server topolopy. SSL on the Front End only. whether the users are inside the firewall or outside the firewall they will connect to the same FE server URL for all. While inside it will resolve automatically to the correct BE server. This would be the recommended choice. I would encourage your external users to use OWA when the are connecting to Exchange external outside the firewall. Use IE 5.0 or higher to get the "Premium Version" or else will get the "Basic Version" Again the same URL can be used for all.
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  • MrGee62
    Just to answer one of your questions. If you do decide to go POP3, the few things that are different: Your users wont have access to the Global Address Book; Messages are downloaded to their personal folders, locally and depending on how you set up the POP3 accounts they can be deleted off of the server permanently, and in some cases they may have wished to save the messages in their online folders, too. These are just a couple of issues I've had comments about from my users in the past. I hope that this is helpful to you. Gregg
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  • Griffin2020
    The big question is this: Are your remote users primarily offsite, or do they ever come into the office? I have both users, and the cimplest solution for us is to setup Outlook 2K3 in Cached Excahnge mode, and allow them VPN access. This way, when they are onsite, they can connect to the network as normal users and synch with Exchange, then they can create new mail, respond to mail as necessary while not connected to the network (this allows them the advantage of taking everything with them while allowing you to archive stuff on the server...single instance and all that. When they need to connect remotely, they can connect to the VPN over whatever connection is available to them, and then synch Outlook as if they were onsite. If they are completely away from their machines, we allow OWA access as well, so that all users can check mail remotely, whether they have a company laptop or not.
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