Know What Is An Exchange Server And How It Works

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It is a world of gadgets and internet out there. Carrying a heavy desktop or laptop just to check an email does not make any sense these days. With advancement in technology, things are getting easier gradually, but rapidly.

Just imagine walking down a busy street and suddenly your boss calls up to respond to his email. Doesn’t it sound annoying?

If your answer is yes, then you must have figured out a solution – Smart Phone!

But how does it work? An email that can be viewed on a system, is now accessible via mobile. If you give it a thought and get into its depth, you would come to know about the role of ‘exchange server‘.

Yes, the technology working behind emails and their synchronization with mobiles is a ‘mail exchange server‘. Let us talk in more detail.

What is Exchange Server?

Exchange server, being a product of Microsoft, is a mail server and calendar server, that helps small and medium scale companies to achieve better reliability and improved performance.

It runs only on Windows Server Operating systems. It can also be called as a server-side application which provides data to the client-side collaborative application platform. This messaging platform or exchange mail server provides flexibility for sending emails, calendaring, voicemail transcriptions, scheduling, and tools to customize collaboration and messaging service applications.

There are various other email protocols apart from an exchange server, like POP3, IMAP, MAPI, and Exchange ActiveSync.

Benefits of Exchange Server

Microsoft Exchange server plays a vital role in your day to day life. Be it official documents, security or mobility, Exchange server’s capabilities could not be paralleled so far.

Let us discuss the top 10 benefits of an exchange server.

  • Official appointments: The mail exchange server won’t let you miss an appointment again. It will inform your customers in case you are out of office, as they get an auto-generated reply right away.
  • Confidentiality of emails: When you are out of your office, it gives you the flexibility of allowing your trustworthy colleagues to check that nothing important gets unnoticed. Thus, it keeps the business moving forward by enabling others to check your availability for a crucial meeting and book appointments.
  • Address book feature: Now, you need not worry about the email address of different employees. All the addresses will be automatically updated in the address book and will come in handy during an urgent requirement like bulk messaging or other urgent confidential messaging ensuring security.
  • Enhanced team productivity: It helps in maintaining proper communication between employees by providing them access from home, office, away from the office or abroad. Thus, it simplifies the means of communication very effectively and helps in rapid growth and productivity.
  • Cost effective: In comparison to other email protocols, Exchange mail server reduces the cost of communication because it is quick and consumes less budget as compared to a phone call, fax, and type and send hard copies of letters.
  • Customer satisfaction: Microsoft exchange server enables companies to be extremely responsive to customers’ queries and resolve issues at the earliest possible leading to the greater satisfaction of customers in no time.
  • Security: It offers better security options than fax and emails. The companies need not worry about leakage of confidential data as it has features like leakage protection, archiving and retention of sensitive information, without compromising on the maintenance of compliance with the government’s and industry’s regulations.
  • Mobility and portability: Exchange server enables a company’s employees /users to securely access email messages, instant messaging, voice mails, video calls and SMS texts from anywhere in the world. All they need is a computing device of their choice (a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phones) and an internet connection.
  • Cloud Computing benefits: Exchange allows the users to move to the cloud on their terms – be it immediate on-boarding to the cloud or managing a hybrid deployment with on-premises and online mailboxes to meet their business needs.

It provides the end users a seamless experience that includes sharing multiple calendars and scheduling meetings between on-premises and online users.

  • Agility: Exchange server helps in decreasing the amount of time spent in managing the messaging systems providing very flexible control, and thus, enhancing the speed of the processes.

It also manages most of the powerful capabilities that include Apps for Outlook, DLP, and site mailboxes from the Exchange Administration Centre – a single, handy, web-based administration interface.

How do Emails work?

Before we understand how exchange server works, let us discuss how email works.

At first, the user creates and sends a message to an email client that uses the Microsoft Exchange Server. In the beginning, they need to connect or link the account to the server. This happens automatically upon signing in.

Once the message is sent, it goes to the server and will be stored in certain server’s database location.

In general, emails are not stored on the client’s computer, and indeed all forms of data to be transferred online require the storage and transmission capabilities of servers.

The moment an email message is stored in the database of the exchange server, they are routed to the appropriate client by sending a notification to their account.

As soon as the receiver’s account gets the notification that there is an incoming message from the server (this requires an internet connection in the client’s system), the server transfers the message to the recipient’s inbox. Soon after that, the recipient can open the message.

(This is how email practically works.)

Now let us discuss How Exchange Server works

Exchange server has four primary components which work hand-in-hand to run the process smoothly.

The components of the mail exchange server are:

1.) Information Store: This is the place where email messages are stored, located and organized.

2.)System Attendant: It makes these messages relevant to the client sending and receiving the

message. In other words, it creates and manages email addresses.

3.)  Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP): This is the component that plays the vital role. It allows inter-server message transmission. Often messages are supposed to be relayed from one server to another, especially in the case where the location of the recipient client is quite far, and/or is using a non-Microsoft email provider.

4.) Active Directory: Its job is to update the system attendant with new mailbox information. It also manages user accounts and distribution lists by itself.

With the functionalities of the individual components, their roles are clear. Hence, Microsoft Exchange Server requires all of the components mentioned above to deliver flawless service to the user.

The user can thus create new email accounts, manage various forms of data, such as calendars, address books and emails. Rest assured, the sent emails are delivered to the inbox where it is supposed to be so that the communication between the users is quick and efficient.

Exchange Server Version List

Apart from Exchange Server, Microsoft has sold many simpler email products, but this is entirely new and a remarkable one. It is X.400 based client-server mail system that comes with a single database store supported by X.500 directory services.

Exchange Server’s directory eventually became Microsoft’s Active Directory service( a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol(LDAP)-compliant directory service. Later, it was integrated into Windows 2000 as the foundation of Windows Server domains.

[LDAP is an industry-standard application protocol that is open and vendor-neutral, to access and maintain distributed directory information services over an Internet Protocol network.]

Exchange server 4.0 was released in March 1996 and it tops in the exchange server version list. There were five service packs (SP) released over a couple of years.

Here is the complete list of other versions of exchange server released till date:

Sl No Version Release Date Significance
1. Exchange Server 4.0 March 1996 Released with five Service Packs
2. Exchange Server 5.0 March 1997
3. Exchange Server 5.5 November 2000
4. Exchange Server 2000 August 2002 Support for clustering of up to 4 nodes
5. Exchange Server 2003 October 2003 Introduced active-active clustering for two nodes, but provided support for 8 nodes
6. Exchange Server 2007 December 2006 It was the first to require

64-bit version of Windows

7. Exchange Server 2010 November 9, 2009 Introduced the concept of Data Availability Group (DAG)
8. Exchange Server 2016 October 1, 2015 [Listed below]

The latest release, exchange server -2016 came up with a few spectacular features and multi-compatibility solutions:

  • Combine roles: The number of available roles came down to two – Mail Box Server and Edge Transport.
  • Office 365 hybrid: The Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW), formerly included with Exchange 2013 is going to change into a cloud-based application. When the user chooses to a hybrid deployment in the current version, he must download and install the wizard as a small app.
  • Outlook on the web: It was formerly known as an Outlook Web App and the latest release has a few changes in the UI.
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