What Is the Mail Server For Microsoft Exchange Server?

Microsoft’s Exchange Server is a messaging platform that includes email, calendaring, contact management and telephony capabilities. It can be used with desktop systems, mobile devices and a web-based system called Outlook Web App (OWA). Exchange also provides storage, search and compliance features. While some organizations use Exchange as an on-premises solution, most opt to run it in the cloud via software as a service or as a managed infrastructure by a service provider.

The primary purpose of an Exchange server is to synchronize all incoming and outgoing email messages for an organization. Each user program on a client system, such as Outlook, will send all emails to the Exchange server, which will then make them available to the appropriate recipients. In addition, the server program will store any pending email messages that have not yet been sent.

In the event of a server failure, the Exchange program will continue to work on the pending messages by copying them from a working server to a backup server, which will then send them on to their destination. Alternatively, the software can be set up to replicate data between multiple servers in a failover cluster, which is known as Database Availability Group (DAG) mode.

Keeping up with the many factors that can influence a Microsoft Exchange Server implementation can be challenging, as most of them are highly interdependent. For example, the server’s network permissions depend on a component of Windows Server called Active Directory. In turn, the AD component requires its own suite of management tools. It is therefore more efficient to deploy specialist monitoring tools that can track all of these services, rather than trying to manage each one separately.

When calculating the amount of storage space that an Exchange server will need, it’s important to take into account log file size requirements. The log files are essential for providing a historical record of what has occurred on the server, so their size is an important factor in planning. In addition, a large amount of disk space is required for message indexing, which can quickly consume up to 20 percent of the total disk capacity on a system.

Another important consideration is the CPU performance requirements of an Exchange server. The server must be able to handle the high input/output operations per second (IOPS) that are needed to keep up with mailbox write and read demands. To achieve this, a processor with a high clock speed is recommended.

Although the largest business messaging platforms are Microsoft’s Exchange and Google’s Gmail, IBM’s Lotus Notes still has a significant installed base, as does the open source solution Zimbra. For most companies, the decision to go with a private, on-premises or hosted version of Exchange comes down to budget and security requirements. The latter includes the need to buy and install a client access license (CAL) for each individual using the server, as well as additional CALs for a management console and archiving tool.