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Exploring the Exchange Administration Center in Exchange Server 2013

By Steve Goodman, SearchExchange.TechTarget.com

Looking back at previous versions of Exchange Server, management has been largely administered through a GUI-based console, either installed on the server or on a management workstation. But Microsoft has changed the game with Exchange 2013. Management is now done through a Web browser, via the brand new Exchange Administration Center. Let's have a look.

The evolution of Exchange Server management

Exchange Server management tools have gone through various iterations. For example, do you remember the Microsoft Exchange Administrator in Exchange 5.5 or the Exchange System Manager in Exchange Server 2000?

The Exchange Management Console (EMC) and Exchange Management Shell (EMS) debuted in Exchange Server 2007. And although many changes in underlying functionality were made in Exchange Server 2010, the EMC remained the same in many respects, especially when it came to recipient, client access and hub transport management.

Exchange 2010 also featured the Exchange Control Panel (ECP), which allowed administrators to manage tasks like basic recipient management in a Web browser. In fact, certain features, like role-based access control (RBAC) and ActiveSync quarantine could only be managed via the Web-based ECP.

In Exchange Server 2013, we see the next revolutionary step: a completely Web-based GUI for Exchange management.

The EAC is an evolution of the ECP and EMC and, in Exchange 2013 RTM, this clearly shines through. For example, some error messages still display with Exchange 2010's graduated yellow background. That said, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can do and how complete the EAC actually is.

Managing Exchange 2013 through the Exchange Administration Center

Whenever Exchange admins migrate to a new version, their first question is usually "How do I accomplish basic management tasks?" Let's take managing recipients for example. This is not the first time recipient management has changed. The move from Active Directory Users and Computers in Exchange 2003 to the Exchange Management Console in Exchange 2007 and 2010 is still a big change some admins are getting used to.

In Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010, admins had three distinct sections to manage Exchange from within the EMC:

  • Organization management, which mirrors the underlying organization-wide settings stored within Active Directory
  • Server management, which focuses on the individual servers within your organization
  • Recipient management

An Exchange administrator could be forgiven for thinking that the primary purpose of the EMC was to set up and configure Exchange rather than for day-to-day administration and management.

Recipient management remains fairly similar in Exchange 2013. And although the EAC is Web-based, the tools necessary to manage Exchange recipients are still contained within.

The Exchange Administration Center emphasizes management rather than setup. Instead of focusing on how Exchange is structured behind the scenes, the attention is now on the specific tasks you need to accomplish.

 

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