MS Exchange Does a Lot, But You Can Make It Do More
Third party solutions can make Exchange Server more secure, provide failover backup and work better.
A large industry has been built on improving Exchange and filling in the gaps in its functionality. Here are some of the key functions for which customers frequently buy additional software. One solution, Xeams from Synametrics, solves many of the problems left unaddressed by Exchange Server.
Spam Filtering- The large majority of email sent on the Internet is still spam. At its least serious, spam is a time-wasting bother to end users and a storage and network bandwidth waster for the organization. But some spam messages are serious threats. They contain links to malicious web sites which could commandeer your users' computers and put your users and business assets, including customer data, at risk.
Exchange Server does not come with spam filtering. There are many places you can go to get that filtering, both in the cloud and to run on-premise. The biggest problem with outsourced spam filtering is privacy. Most emails these days come in clear and, as a result, companies have to trust the service provider to handle their sensitive data. Failure to keep matters private can result in problems later on.
Additionally, the return on investment on a spam filtering solution is huge. Consider the following scenario:
If an employee, on average, gets 100 spam messages a day and spends five seconds determining if it's junk and should be deleted - and the company has 30 employees - that adds up to 250 minutes per day, wasted. And, if each of those 30 employees makes $25 per hour, that would amount to $104 in lost revenue every day. Can you imagine the lost revenue at a very large company with highly-paid employees? Human spam filtering can be very costly and can dramatically reduce employee productivity.
ArchivingYou can't keep all your email from the beginning of your service on your email server, but neither can you necessarily throw it out. Good business practices dictate that you archive such messages to maintain them for legal purposes and potentially just because you want to look up some very old message. Regulated businesses are often required to retain email records for some period of time.
Good archiving systems are not just a dumping ground for old messages, they index the messages to make them searchable. When a court orders you to provide all messages between certain people and/or relating to certain subjects, you want to be able to retrieve them quickly without having to browse.
Recent versions of Exchange Server have a form of archiving available as a premium feature requiring premium client access licenses. For this and other reasons, third party archiving solutions are very popular for Microsoft Exchange Server.
Backup InfrastructureIf your Exchange Server were to go down, would you have any way to retrieve your email? Probably not, which means many potential hardware or software problems could bring your email and your business down. You can solve this with multiple redundant Exchange Servers, or through a third party solution. Xeams, for example, is a full mail server; your users can choose to retrieve their email temporarily from Xeams instead of Exchange Server.
Policy EnforcementAnother weak point with Exchange is policy enforcement. There are many policies you can set with Active Directory Group Policies, particularly for Microsoft Outlook clients, but there are many holes in this coverage.
Some third party packages, Xeams included, allow administrators to monitor aggregate usage in order so as to detect abuses of the system and to gather gross statistical data. How many emails are received on a daily basis? Who gets most of the messages? What percentage of messages are junk? These are all questions worth asking about an Exchange Server installation, and with Xeams you can ask them.
Xeams from Synametrics performs all these functions and it's free and supports unlimited numbers of users and domains. Xeams is available for multiple operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux and other UNIX variants. It is available as a rack appliance. Paid, priority support is available.
Exchange Server is so mature and full of features that it's sometimes easy to forget that there are things it doesn't do. There are, including many important tasks that make your email system more secure and robust. Don't be afraid to make your systems better.