The new Exchange 2007 Management Console overview

Published Aug 21 2006 02:34 PM 8,562 Views

Exchange 2007 introduces a completely updated GUI management console to replace the Exchange System Manager of previous versions. This new Exchange Management Console is still a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, just like the old version, and still uses standard GUI elements like a navigation tree, result pane, wizards, property pages, and dialogs.  However significant improvements have been made to greatly simplify the console experience without a complete paradigm shift - in short the console will provide a simplified, intuitive, and an organized management experience, but not a steep learning curve.


The apex of the changes have been in organizing the Exchange 2007 console into 4 work centers:


- Organization Configuration
- Server Configuration
- Recipient Configuration
- Toolbox


The work centers directly map to the type of data that Exchange administrators need to manage in their exchange organization, providing a very consistent and intuitive experience.  A work center is essentially a top level tree node with sub categories (or child tree nodes) as required.  Because the console tree is now used strictly for navigation, all dynamic data was moved from the tree and into the result pane. 


The outcome?  A static navigation tree that is only 3 levels deep and provides an effective way of organizing actions and data for the administrator and rich result pane views.


Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Exchange 2003 tree and the Exchange 2007 tree:

Note:  The Exchange 2003 tree could be expanded to 8 or more levels deep


Figure 1:  Navigation Tree Comparison


Console Frame

As shown below, the fundamentals of the console aren't that different from Exchange System Manager.  There is still a navigation tree and result pane.  The newest addition is the action pane, which is essentially an extension of the right-click menu.  The action pane allows all actions to easily be discovered at a glance without having to right click. The right click menu is still available of course; we understand people LOVE their right click!  In fact, an administrator can choose to save some screen real estate by turning off the action pane completely by going to the View menu and choosing customize (see "Figure 3:  Customize View").


Figure Figure 2:  Console Frame


Figure 3:  Customize View


Organization Configuration


The organization work center is for global or system-wide configuration data. It houses features like E-mail Address Policies (formerly Recipient Policies), Address Lists, and Accepted Domains.  In addition, this work center's sub-nodes are categorized by server-role.  This is because configuration data can both be server-level and organization-wide and thus the server-role grouping provides an effective sub-categorization for both server and organization configuration work centers.  It also makes it very easy to discover all of the configuration data for a particular server-role.  The top-level node of the work center "Organization Configuration" is used for general global data that doesn't map to a specific server role, for instance, managing your Exchange Administrator roles is found on this top-level node.


In addition, the "view" used in the result pane for this work center is a tabbed view.  The tabs across the top of the result pane allows the grouping of similar features & data together but still provides each feature with its own result pane; essentially it is another form of navigation.


Figure 4:  Organization Work Center - Hub Transport Node


Server Configuration


The server work center is for server centric data and contains features like database management and protocols.  Like the organizational work center, its sub-categories are based on server-roles.  The top-level node of this work center "Server Configuration" is used to provide an aggregate view of all Exchange 2007 and higher servers, regardless of server role.  This is really beneficial for an administrator who wants to find a specific server by filtering without having to choose a role. The admin can then select the server and use the "Manage <ServerRole>" link to navigate to the correct sub-node to manage the settings for that server (see "Figure 6: Server Work Center " below for an example).


The result pane for this work center utilizes a work pane which allows us to show child objects for the server and which also has tabs to group similar features.


Figure 5:  Server Work Center - Mailbox Node


Figure 6:  Server Work Center - Manage Role Links


Recipient Configuration Work Center


The recipient work center is for management for all types of recipients, such as mailboxes, distribution groups, and mail enabled contacts.  The functionality that used to be in Active Directory Users & Computers is now in the Exchange Management Console within the recipient work center.  The sub-categories of this work center group similar recipient types, for instance the mailbox node will show user mailboxes, linked mailboxes, resource mailboxes, and so on...  The top-level node of this work center "Recipient Configuration" provides an aggregate view of all recipient types.  The "Disconnected Mailbox" node is used for mailboxes which have been disconnected from the Active Directory user account and remain in the mailbox database.  You use this node to reconnect the mailbox to an AD user account.


Figure 7:  Recipient Work Center


Toolbox Work Center

The toolbox work center is a launching pad for additional tools needed to manage exchange. These are typically tools for troubleshooting, diagnostics, and analyzing your Exchange system.


Example tools that can be found here are Queue Viewer and the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer.


Figure 8:  Toolbox Work Center


- Amanda Langowski

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Overal I like the new EMC. But in my opinion it's difficult to compare ESM with EMC because in ESM it was possible to configure nearly every parameter of a server. In EMC you can only configure the "important" stuff. For all other things you'll have to use the shell. A good example is the Protocol config(SMTP, POP, etc). A real drawback is, that the ADUC extensions are no longer available. I know that it was done because of customer feedback, ease of development, etc. But I have *many* customers which use ADUC to manage the whole user/group stuff. They aren't happy with EMC... My company plans to release an extension to ADUC which will "emulate" the behavior of the E2003 Extensions...
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As a Exchange admin/engineer I'm quite fond of the new EMC. However I'm far more happy with the commandline interface. Full capacityreports in a twoline command; configuring an Exchange server completely from batchscript. This is almost an admins wet dream (ok ok.. almost :) ). One drawback however has also to do with this interface. A lot of companies separate usermanagement from server-/applicationmanagement. In the case of the company I work for, usermanagement is the responsibility of a group of non-skilled coworkers. Because most userrights-assignment is no longer possible through the GUI, their work will become somewhat more complicated. Ohwell.. Choices, choices.
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I like the new management interface and the PowerShell command line will be a godsend for managing larger environments.  However, I'm quite surprised that recipient managment capabilities have been removed from ADUC.  It's a hard sell to try and tell the helpdesk or other area responsible for ID creation that they now have to use two different tools when creating new accounts-  A step in the wrong direction for simplifying common admin tasks.
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Where does Mailbox Management come in?  Of course in 2003 is is implemented (dare I say "badly") as a recipient policy, which is now called an E-mail Address Policy

I have seen screen shots of Outlook 2007 folders that have a header stating a policy is configured for that folder (e.g. Items in this folder will live only for 30 days here) - I assume that to be the replacement?  Where is the back-end of that procedure?

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On the server side that stuff is managed through new Messaging Records Management functionality. You can configure this by going to Organization Configuration > Mailbox. This is where you define the policies for managed folders. Please check the documentation too:
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I also like the new interface....
But what's up with the clunky way to add roles such as Mailbox and Client Access? I know that this should only need to be done at install...but come on...not slick.
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The removal of the Exchange properties from ADUC is definitely a step back.  A large number of my clients like to use a single interface for all account management including messaging.  These are mostly small and medium sized companies where there is are one or two folk managing the Help Desk and Account managment.  I hope that when Longhorn appears that this combined functionality will be re-instated.

Dick Beddoe
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I just can't believe that the ADUC function is going to be taken away.  At our company the people who create the user accounts and add them to our groups are NOT the people I want in my Exchange Console.  It took me  5 years to convince upper management that we needed to migrate completely off of Novell and onto Microsoft/Exchange (budget was aproved last month).  This is one more whine that I'm going to have to look forward to where I will have people complaining that I've made their work more difficult instead of easier.
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Trent - It's worth clarifying that the ADUC function for AD actions isn't going away with Exchange 2007, just the Exchange extensions. So for your concern about "the people who create the user accounts and add them to our groups", there will be no issues.

Creating user accounts and doing AD group management is an AD function - not an Exchange-specific function - and you'll still be able to do these actions from ADUC.

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Hi, Whatever happened to the Message Tracking Center under Tools?  Can I save the results of trace?
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A few days ago, we posted blog The new Exchange 2007 Management Console overview and Recipient Management...
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Exchange Server 2007 introduced a new GUI management console (Exchange Management Console) to replace...
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I have previously listed the progress we've been making in posting ITPro focused Systems Management blog
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Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is bound to shake up the Active Directory world as we know it. After my
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Its funny how much I've seen this subject danced around but no one truely addressing what quite a few are asking - where did the 'Exchange Tabs' go in ADUC?
Im running:
2003 DC w/AD - Running on a 2003 ENT R2 Server
Exchange 2007 - Running on a 2003 ENT R2 x64 Platform

Yes - installed the EMC on DC w/AD - no Exchange Tabs in ADUC
Yes - installed the 2003 Resource Kit SP1 on DC w/AD - no Exchange Tabs in ADUC
Yes - ensured the exchange schema was extended into AD - no Exchange Tabs in ADUC
Yes - checked the View > Advanced Features - no Exchange Tabs in ADUC
Yes - found the .dlls folks have been talking about, placed them on DC w/AD server and registered - no Exchange Tabs in ADUC
Yes - frustrated as all get out!!!

Nice idea that you can delete a mailbox and wipe out the AD account associated with it.  Would be nice if when you created a mailbox it also created the AD account!!!

Happy to sit on the sidelines and pout, but would prefer an idea of WHERE it shows I screwed up OR I'm barking up the wrong tree.  If AD / Exchange integration has taken a step back - might be time to go back to dixie cups and string.
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Don Byrd,

Exchange ADUC integration is gone, yes, so what you are seeing is by design.

Things have gotten better since that post has been written too. You can now create user accounts using the Exchange Console too.
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