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RE: Exchange 2K3 and Server 2K3 versus SUN One Pros/Cons and Security Pros/Cons
From: "Nero, Nick" <Nick.Nero () disney com>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2003 13:42:41 -0500

I gotta disagree on this one guys.  At my employer we use Exchange 2k
for what has to be one of the largest Exchange environments around.
Where I am located we have 20,000 + mailboxes for just our site.  Also,
all of the companies under the parent company (Disney Feature Animation,
Miramax films, ESPN, ABC . ..) all use Exchange for mail as well.  Our
mail databases is stored in a Compaq SAN and it is certainly raided.  

I totally agree that SQL is a far superior database and the next
Exchange will be based on the Yukon database but keep in mind the
current database engine (ESE) is used for Active Directory as well.  Our
AD has over 6 Million objects and other companies (Walmart, Texas
Instruments . . ) have AD trees with millions of objects as well with
great performance and reliability, at least on our end of it.  Our
Exchange implementation is far from "standalone".  It uses a huge array
of front-end and back-end boxes - 20 front end connectors and 35 servers
for the back-end.  I support these servers and I have never had to
restore an Exchange (or AD) box from tape, but have had to replace
several other stand alone app servers.

We do use large HPUX machines with Sendmail just as our External SMTP
gateway.  Most of that I believe is legacy from the former ccmail
environment and has been left in place for compatibility with some of
our environment that still depends on it.  I agree that is is hard to
beat Sendmail on a large Unix box when you need to process millions of
pieces of mail.  It is hard to get an Intel box that can scale that well
unless you are prepared to go Itanium with an 8 way or something.  

And to Jimi - "it doesn't cluster or replicate"?  What would you call
Active directory?  I know our AD servers (35 of them) replicate all the
time between databases.  And they are certainly clustered since any of
them can take requests and assume different roles if one of them fails.
Maybe you are referring to some other, more specific capability?

Nick Nero
CISSP, MCSE, MCSA, CCNA
Sr. Systems Analyst
The Walt Disney Company


-----Original Message-----
From: Dean Davis [mailto:Dean.Davis () mbg-inc com] 
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2003 12:55 PM
To: 'Jimi Thompson'; security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: RE: Exchange 2K3 and Server 2K3 versus SUN One Pros/Cons and
Security Pros/Cons

I agree with the general consensus that Exchange, all versions, is not
ready for heavy-duty, prime time. 

Does anyone remember Microsoft stating that future releases of Exchange
would be based on SQL Server technology? That was certainly one
indication of ESE's deficiencies. In my experience, Exchange works well
on a standalone, non-RAID server.

 

Thanks,
Dean Davis, MCSE,MCDBA,CCNA,CNA,N+,Linux+ Sr. Network Engineer MBG, Inc.
370 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
P. 212.822.4429
F. 212.822.4499
http://www.mbg-inc.com



-----Original Message-----
From: Jimi Thompson [mailto:jimit () myrealbox com]
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 7:51 PM
To: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: Exchange 2K3 and Server 2K3 versus SUN One Pros/Cons and
Security Pros/Cons


Sarbjit,

You are correct about the "upgrade" to ESE from a true JET.  However, it

STILL doesn't do all the things that a TRUE RDBMS like MS-SQL or Oracle 
are capable of. 
It doesn't cluster.  It doesn't replicate.  It also doesn't like being 
virus scanned.  You are also correct that it doesn't like being on a 
RAID set up.  That being said, I fail to see where it performs like 
"Microsoft SQL or Oracle".  Given that ESE doesn't do any of those 
things, and is for almost all practical purposes is simply JET2003 and I

fail to see where it is such an improvement.

It can't handle any other process running against it's datastore because

it doesn't have the ability to cache and then commit like a REAL RDBMS.

Even according to your own statements, it can't handle running in a 
normal operating environment with a RAID controller and some anti-virus 
software.  Given that it can't operate as one would expect in these days

of RAID controllers and virus scanning software being required on mail 
servers, I stand by my "self-corrupting" statement.   A mail server 
should be able to operate in a "high availablity" environment.  Given 
that Microsoft has the code to MS-SQL, why is it that they haven't 
backended Exchange with that? It's touted as the premier of their 
database technology.  Furthermore, if ESE is so good, why isn't it 
marketed seperately as a database?  Microsoft markets the heck out of 
everything else.

I also seriously doubt that your mail servers have been banged on by 
large numbers of undergrad students that send our professors emails 
infected with every virus and bit of spyware known to man.   Our 
sendmail server, which acts as our spam prefilter has an uptime of 383 
days.   We simply cannot remove the virus software.  In  addtion, we've 
had MICROSOFT come out an install the server on the second go-around.  
Our TAM has spent quite a bit of time on site, pretty much scratching 
his head.  I doubt that this is something that we've done. 

I'm also not saying that other people won't run it and like it.  
Personally, I would not advise anyone to buy it unless I really hated 
them. 

2 cents,

Jimi






Sarbjit Singh Gill wrote:

I seriously think it is something to do with your hardware or at least

setup of your OS / Exchange which made it corrupt the databases. Also 
worse case , somebody is opening the Exchange DBs using access thinking

it is a JetDatabase technology based database. Also make sure no virus 
scanners, defragmentation software are accessing the mdb database.

Anyway, Joint Engine Technology (JET) in earlier versions of Exchange 
Server, evolved into the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) in later 
versions. ESE is a solid relational database technology similar to that

of Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle, although ESE's implementation is 
quite different. Exchange 2000's ESE, a transacted storage engine that 
works primarily with messaging and collaborative data, guarantees that 
all database operations meet the Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and

Durability (ACID) properties. ACID properties for database engines 
ensure that you can roll back transactions in the event of unsuccessful

completion or replay them in recovery. Microsoft uses ESE throughout 
Exchange 2000, in places such as the Key Management Server (KMS) and 
the Site Replication Service (SRS), as well as in Windows 2000's Active

Directory (AD).

I have clients which have implemented Exchange 2003 (and before that 
Exchange 2000) and never had problems like you have. Also one of my 
clients, I just met up last week is a polytechnic and they have a 8-way

server running exchange 2003 and all is ok since they installed 
Exchange 2003 this year.

I don't think Exchange 2003 is "self-corrupting the JetDatabase Data 
Store." There is no such thing. Like I mentioned above, the technology 
isn't JetDatabase anymore. So somebody in your organization some setup 
not done correctly. Verify all logs, event logs etc to see if there is 
something not proper. Could even be a hardware based disk cache 
mechanism which interferes with the transaction log management of the 
databases.

Kind Regards
Gill


-----Original Message-----
From: Jimi Thompson [mailto:jimit () myrealbox com]
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2003 1:01 PM
To: tawilson () speakeasy net
Cc: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: Exchange 2K3 and Server 2K3 versus SUN One Pros/Cons and
Security Pros/Cons

I'm not going to tell you what you should buy, but I do suggest that 
you benefit from my experience and my advice is that you should avoid
Microsoft, if if the alternative costs more upfront.    We are a 
relatively small (for email)  Microsoft Shop running Exhcange 2003 and 
we have had endless problems with it self-corrupting the JetDatabase 
Data Store.  It's been horrible.  We've only got about 300-350 users 
and we've had to reload (format the drives, reinstall the OS, and 
restore from a back
up) the server 3 times since May, when it got deployed.  If we hadn't
put a
Sendmail sever in front of it to do spam filtering, we'd have lost days
of
email.  Fortunately, we have been able to configure the Sendmail server
to
spool until we could bring the Exchange box back on line.  As things
stand,
we've lost a total of about  24 hours worth of email. 

It so bad that even though we are a university and Microsoft basically 
gives us their products, we're looking at purchasing an alternative.
Right now the front runner is Samsung Contact (nee HP's OpenMail), but
that
may change now that SuSE has released a new mail server.

I can tell you from experience that the "new secure 'out-of-the-box'
2003" products aren't much better than their current counterparts.  The
service isn't any better, it's just not "on".  They also left a lot of
things turned on that I'd turn off in a "secure out of the box" OS.
I'd be
happy to supply you with both NMAP and NESSUS scan results from various
machines that we've loaded.  We've deliberately done some very vanilla
installs specifically so that we could scan them.  Our experience
indicates
that unless you plan on deploying Office 2003 as well, you won't be
getting
any change in how Outlook (XP and earlier) connects to Exchange in any
event. 

iPlanet's big downside has always been documentation and installation.
Regardless of the product, their install process has tended to bite
rather
severely.  Part of what has traditionally made the installs so painful
is
that their products are SOOOOOO poorly documented.  If you guys have
worked
with iPlanet/SunONE, you know what I'm talking about.  
However, once installed and working they tend to be rock solid. 

There's other stuff out there though.  I've got a pretty good list, 
since we've been doing evals looking to replace our Exchange server 
with something that actually works reliably and has all the groupware 
features that our users want (namely calendaring). I'd be happy to 
share my notes with you.

HTH,

Jimi


tawilson () speakeasy net wrote:

 

Hello everyone,

Our IS group is a current SUN Iplanet shop. We have Win2K3 AD running 
and
   

the majority of the server infrastructure is running on Win2K.
 

We are looking to upgrade our Email infrastructure. Our current SUN 
Iplanet
   

implementation is about 3 years old. At the time of deployment it was 
perfect for our environment. We needed to deploy web mail and at that 
time there was/is no question that MS Exchange was not mature enough in

the web client.
 

Our environment still has a HIGH demand for a web based client due to 
our
   

customer base.
 

We are now talking with SUN about upgrading the infrastructure and 
moving
   

to their new Email infrastructure. We are also looking to determ if 
Microsoft has come of age and does it now fit in to our environment 
better then the SUN solution.
 

SUN and Microsoft are preparing presentations as well as presenting 
SOWs
   

for our review and interactive discussion. I am interested in security 
issues or design issues with either platform. We have users that need 
to access our email infrastructure from around the world. Our clients 
use UNIX (all flavors), MACs, Win2K/XP and some older MS OSs as well.
 

So let me have it hit me with the good the bad and the ugly about E2K3

and
   

Win2K3 as well as any SUN items you can come up with. Security is my 
primary focus but I will addressing questions from all aspects to 
presentation teams.
 

I have not had a chance to see the new outlook client and the new 
"secure"
   

way it connects to E2K3 so if anyone has input to this I would really 
love to hear that.
 

Thanks in advance for any inputs I look forward to reading them.


-Todd




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