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So right now our set-up looks like this:

To receive email:

[[Our e-mail host]] --> POP3 [[Our Exchange 2003 server]]

To send e-mail:

[[Our Exchange 2003 server]] --> SMTP --> [[Zen internet]] --> [[johndoe@domain.com]]

Now I have very limited knowledge of how the POP3 & Exchange e-mailing system works but I have done some research so please bare with me if I am not providing enough information.

Is the above set-up the way to go? Is it best practice to host your own exchange e-mail system? (we receive a lot of SPAM and many of the products only work when mail is retrieved via SMTP)

We are a small sized company of about 20-30 mailboxes - we use many of the Outlook 07/10 features such as meetings and calendars - I say this because I read that IMAP doesn't support this (I was looking at all possible options).

So my real questions are:

  1. So what are the main differences between POP3 and Exchange?

  2. Is it worth us switching over to Exchange hosted when we do an upgrade to SBS 2008?

  3. Apart from two (is that correct?) public IP addresses, is there any other 'special' requirements?

  4. Would it be safe to open up the Exchange server to the public internet? (of course, opening up anything to the outside world is dangerous, but will it be fine if set up properly?)

  5. Is there anything else I have not thought through properly? The main reason I want to do this is because I don't think that retrieving our e-mail via pop 3 from an external provider is how it's supposed to be done. Also, I do not believe we are making full use & flexibility of Exchange 2003's (or 2010 when we upgrade to SBS 2008) features by using POP3.

Thank you for reading!

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1 Answer 1

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1. So what are the main differences between POP3 and Exchange?

POP3 is a protocol, Exchange is an MTA, which can deliver mail using many protocols, it defaults to MAPI for user mail retrieval, but you can enable IMAP and POP3 (and even X.400) And it includes a webmail interface. (Which allows mobiles/iphones & remote users to access email). The webmail interface (when configured) allows users with broken Outlook to stay productive anywhere in the world.. ;-)

2. Is it worth us switching over to Exchange hosted when we do an upgrade to SBS 2008?

Unable to answer (No SBS experience) Don't know what you mean by hosted, you mean externally?

3. Apart from two (is that correct?) public IP addresses, is there any other 'special' requirements?

You only require one. Special? Active Directory is REQUIRED, as is a decent server with gobs of RAM and adequate backups. IIS is required for the web interface, as is SSL (so, either an external certificate or an internal CA)

4. Would it be safe to open up the Exchange server to the public internet?

If its behind a firewall, you should only need to expose certain functionality, like outbound SMTP from the exchange server, and inbound SMTP to the server, then if external users require access, I would make them use a VPN, or use HTTPS (Outlook can use RPC over HTTPS). To secure it more, pipe your messages through a filtering service, like MessageLabs.

5. Is there anything else I have not thought through properly? I do not believe we are making full use & flexibility of Exchange by using POP3.

No, no you aren't. By using MAPI internally, you keep the email on the server, and can back it up centrally, and can use public folders to share contacts/messages/todo/calendars etc with multiple users easily.

I guess thats it, someone better can probably answer your questions more fully, and I look forward to reading their answers!

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"Don't know what you mean by hosted, you mean externally?" Well I've looked in to internally hosted and externally - externally seems a tad bit expensive on a per month basis (in my opinion anyway) but on the other hand, internally hosted seems risky. Thanks for the post btw, helpful insight :-) –  emtunc Sep 7 '10 at 9:50
    
Having your own local server has two incredible advantages.. that users love, you can send as many internal messages as you want for free.. no data charges. Messages as large as can be (I've seen one message clog up the server for an hour that was delivered to 50 recipients of 256MB!).. Oh, and its fast. –  Grizly Sep 7 '10 at 10:42
    
Good points... also, many external providers cap each mailbox @ around 2GB~ (obviously you can get more for $$$). –  emtunc Sep 8 '10 at 9:05

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