One of the big selling points of SBS 2008 is its integration with, and the inclusion of, Microsoft Exchange 2007. The full-scale email system allows small companies to have a solid email solution without the expense or hassle of a standalone Exchange server.
Email With SBS 2008
The tight integration of Microsoft Exchange 2007 into SBS 2008 means that when users are added via the SBS Console, the user’s email address and account are automatically setup and linked. This ensures that each user in the company has an email account that they can access.
The easiest email access comes via the Microsoft Outlook application. Microsoft Outlook is included with the Office 2007 Business suite. In fact, Microsoft Outlook is probably the only reason that most small businesses buy the Office Business edition over the Home edition.
Outlook 2007 takes advantage of the new Autodiscover service in Exchange 2007. When the user account is created via the SBS Console, the proper linkage and pointers are setup such that when the user launches Outlook, it will automatically be configured to point to the Small Business Server Exchange Server. Thus, the user can start using email right away.
Remote Email Access
Of course, not everyone spends all day sitting at their work desk, especially in small companies where many workers wear more than one hat. Remote access can be provided in two ways. The first is Outlook Web Access which is a browser-based application that has much of the same core functionality as the full Outlook application albeit in a slower and less pretty interface. Users can run email, calendar, contacts and even Outlook folders, all through a web browser on any computer. This option is also popular for employees who may not need the full version of Outlook as a way to use either the cheaper Home edition of the Office Suite, or other software all together.
Outlook Web Access is managed on the SBS Console in the Shared Folders and Web Sites tab. Here OWA can be enabled or disabled and more importantly, individual permissions managed so that certain users can be given access to this mechanism while others are not.
A slightly more elegant solution for users with the full Outlook application installed on a remote computer or on a laptop is Outlook Anywhere. Outlook Anywhere uses RPC over HTTP to access your email account like it was sitting on the same internal network. No VPN software is required which makes this a much simpler solution for traveling users.
Again, Outlook 2007 will auto-configure the required settings to allow for anywhere access. However, an Internet connection must be established prior to running the Outlook application.
One other nice feature of the SBS 2008 implementation of Exchange based email is the POP3 connector. Since many small businesses start out using hosted email solutions (and may continue to do so, at least in part) Microsoft includes a POP3 connector that allows for hosted email to be pulled to the Exchange Server so that users can have all of their business email in one location. As an added benefit, this allows for that email to be backed up and archived as part of the normal backup process.
In short, SBS 2008 provides for a fully implemented in-house email system and plenty of options for remote access.