Messaging in a Bottle
Mission-Critical Microsoft Exchange 2000 is a must-have for new installs and offers invaluable insight for those who've already done the deed.
The first thing I do when selecting a technology book off the shelf is
to check the publication date. I was initially put off when I saw that
this book was published way back in December 2000. Surely this
be hopelessly out of date! Despite my initial impression, I found that
I was missing the point of a book like this. The art (or science, if you
prefer) of building mission-critical systems is not something that is
dependent on the latest/greatest technology or service pack. In most cases,
bleeding edge technology is anathema in a mission-critical environment.
The author, Jerry Cochran is a Principal Technology Consultant with Compaq
Global Services, an organization that is famous for creating and managing
some of the largest Exchange installations in the world. He brings those
experiences with him as he explains the strategies, procedures and best
practices associated with designing and maintaining high availability
Exchange 2000 environments.
The author starts out by defining the basis for a mission-critical environment.
He spends time explaining the meanings of the proverbial "five 9's,"
Service Level Agreements and analyzing and accessing downtime and the
reasons for it. He then moves on to examine the major components that
are responsible for downtime, and examines the technologies that are available
to lessen the risk and consequences of component failure. Next he provides
explanations of how to make design decisions on the different hardware
and software configurations depending on your environment and desired
level of risk.
Of special note is the chapter on Disaster Recovery. The author outlines
several best practices for backup and restore. In addition, he provides
information on how to modify your Exchange design to reduce the time required
for backups and disaster recovery.
The final two chapters are devoted to subjects that too many people overlook
when designing implementations-security and proactive management. For
example, you can design and implement the perfect hardware and software
configuration, but it doesn't really get you anywhere if someone hacks
into your system, uses your server for mail relay, mounts a successful
denial of service attack against you or a virus trashes all of your mailboxes.
A lot of organizations simply give lip service to the idea of proactive
maintenance, but this is a critical area. As the author explains in the
final chapter, there are a lot of benefits in understanding how your servers
are operating under normal conditions. This makes it much easier to understand
when they are starting to have a problem. Most modern software is capable
of warning you when a problem is imminent-if you only pay attention.
Administrators who are running small shops should not be put off by the
title. Just because you're small in size doesn't mean that the loss of
your server won't create a big problem and negatively impact your business.
This is especially true if you've implemented some of the collaboration
features of Exchange.
Overall, I have to recommend this book for anyone that is embarking on
a design and implementation of an Exchange server deployment. In addition,
a careful perusal of this book will provide important insights for those
who have already implemented Exchange server and would like to make sure
that they have all the bases covered.
As a senior consultant Lee Scales, MCSE, CCA, has worked extensively with Windows NT/2000, Exchange and BackOffice. His specialty is designing Win2K infrastructures.