Organizations rely on email heavily to receive information, and send to recipients external or internal of the organization. Additional features are often added like calendar and address book. We will look at Microsoft’s Exchange server as an Email server.
Microsoft Exchange Server is a mail server and calendaring server created by the company giant Microsoft Corporation. It runs only on Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 R2 OS and not available on other platforms.
The first version of Exchange Server to be published by Microsoft was Exchange Server 4.0. Exchange initially used the X.400 directory service but switched to Active Directory later. Versions 4.0 and 5.0 came bundled with an email client called Microsoft Exchange Client. It was discontinued in favor of Microsoft Outlook.
Exchange Server uses a proprietary protocol called Messaging Application Programming Interface or MAPI. On its development it added support for Post Office Protocol or POP3, Internet Message Access Protocol or IMAP, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or SMTP, and Exchange ActiveSync or EAS.
Microsoft Exchange is integrated to the Active directory and thus allows faster management of the organization. Account creation is easy as any account in the active directory without any mailbox can be assigned with its email by simple wizard. It can also be managed via Powershell Module scripts.
Exchange ActiveSync is a proprietary protocol designed for the synchronization of email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes from a messaging server to a smartphone or other mobile devices. EAS provides mobile device management and policy controls. The protocol is based on XML. The mobile device communicates over HTTP or HTTPS. This feature in the Microsoft Exchange allows administrators to check mobile connected emails and to execute remote wipe of the phone to prevent unauthorized access to data in case of phone loss.
As seen from the Microsoft Technet website, the minimum software requirements for Microsoft Exchange are: 64bit processor, memory space of at least 8Gb for Mailbox and Edge transport of 4Gb minimum. Accordingly, as per Technet, at least 30 GB on the drive on which you install Exchange. For more info you can check from https://technet.microsoft.com/library/aa996719(v=exchg.150).aspx
Supported email clients include Outlook 2016/2013/2010/2007, Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition, Outlook for Mac for Office 365/2011. Mobile devices can be configured to use Exchange ActiveSync such as android, iphone, or email client app supporting ActiveSync.
Overall, Microsoft Exchange provides the functionalities an organization needs for communications. With a visually similar interface like other office product, Microsoft Outlook, newbies and non techie office staff can use all the features of Outlook and Exchange with minimal difficulty and less learning curve. Exchange has a great management GUI and robust PowerShell to automate common tasks suchs as backups, mailbox exports and so on.