Microsoft Exchange Server -- E-mail and calendaring server integrated with Windows 2000 Active Directory

There is no denying that e-mail has become the de facto standard for communication all over the globe. In many enterprises, e-mail is the standard and official means of communication, taking precedence over the phone or even personal meetings.

We recently got our hands on Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 and decided to see how it measured up against other e-mail servers we have tested.

Here at ServerWatch, we recently got our hands on Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 and decided to see how it measured up against other e-mail servers we have tested.

Quite honestly, we weren't all that impressed.

The first thing we noticed was that Exchange 2000 must be integrated with Windows 2000 Active Directory. Thus, the enterprise must also run a Domain and have the Exchange server be one of the domain controllers or a member server in that domain. This requirement automatically rules out Exchange for an organization looking for a stand-alone e-mail server, as you NEED to be running Windows 2000, and it's necessary to have a domain running.

We elected to make a stand-alone domain controller on the test server on which we were going to install Exchange.

The first time we installed Exchange on the test server, it corrupted Active Directory to the point where it would not function. We could not even demote the server to be a member of a workgroup, and Active Directory could not be removed. We had to reformat and start all over again.

It is quite possible that this was just a fluke in the installation, as on our second attempt, the installation completed without a hitch.

Once installed, we found Exchange's administrative tools to be large and cumbersome to use, as well as occupying an extremely large memory footprint. The only place we see these being useful is in a very large enterprise: Exchange is definitely not for the small organization.

Exchange's services brought our test server, with its 256 MB of RAM, to its knees. We tried to run DNS and DHCP services from the dual CPU system as well but ended up choking the machine to the point where any time it was accessed, the virtual page file would kick in and drive the RAID Stripe wild.

Believe it or not, our test server actually exceeded the system requirements for Exchange 2000, and it was still too bogged down to work effectively. Like other software packages from Microsoft, the listed system requirements for Exchange are far too low.

Because of these limitation, we feel our tests of Exchange couldn't really show its high points.

However, for an enterprise looking to migrate from an earlier version of Exchange to Exchange 2000 because of features such as Outlook Web Email Access, which rivals such services as hotmail.com and yahoo.com, the move to Exchange 2000 may be extremely beneficial. The integrated scheduling and calendaring features make Outlook and Exchange 2000 one of the best combinations for large workgroups running Windows 2000.

Pros: 7 Many features useful to large service systems; 7 Active Directory integration reduces user management and creation needs

Cons: 7 Due to its large memory footprint for services and administrative apps, a high-performance server is required; 7 Must be integrated with Active Directory and Windows 2000

Version Reviewed: 2000
Date of Review: 9/6/01
Last Updated: 9/6/01
Reviewed by: M.A. Dockter

This article was originally published on Sep 6, 2001
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