My buddy “Pascal”:http://center.spoke.com/info/pI2Q8X/PascalMartin told me that there are lots of Exchange hosters. Said I might try Apptix as one company. So off to “asp-one.com”:http://asp-one.com for a trial. Some quick notes:
* They don’t support Mac users in the admin console. They actually require Internet Explorer to run their administrative UI.
* The actual site is a little confusing. The company is apptix, but the signup site is “asp-one.com”:http://asp-one.com while the administrative logon site is “bizatlarge.net”:http://bizatlarge.net while your user address is @atlarge.net. Confused yet.
* They don’t public the URLs anywhere and there isn’t a home page where they live. Why do folks always do this? “Zipcar.com”:http://zipcar.com has the same issue, they email you kinds of URLs and they should just put the links somewhere. In any case, I don’t see it indexed anywhere, but if you are using this page, then the links are all over the place.
* The configuration is stuffed into somesort of downloadable script which of course immediately failed. They have a really clunky knowledgebase application that is super slow and has only 50 entries in it. Someone should tell them about wikis or just posting static pages. The searches are equally painful.
* Configuration information for clients exits, but they are all in PDFs and not indexed, so it is really painful to figure out how to configure Entourage, Outlook, etc. It is all there, just hard to find.
* They have Blackberry integration, but again it is hard to figure out. First issue is that the default Entourage installation thinks all the Blackberry messages that get sent on activation are junk mail, so wireless enterprise activation doesn’t work. So you have to make sure that these are marked as not junk.
* If you want to resend the Blackberry wireless password, there isn’t a command to do this. Instead, you have to ask their helpdesk and then learn that what you do is to unsubscribe a user and while it does say resubscribe costs money, in fact it doesn’t, so that is the workaround to send another password.
* They have a strange system of naming. When you create the account, you have to define what is in essence a subdomain of 3-6 characters. Then you user name become .. So if you select say ABCorp and your user name is Rich, then when you login, you login as rich.abcorp. Looks wierd to say the least and hard to train folks as this is unlike any name I’ve seen.
* They do allow you to have your mail sourced here, but the instructions are really obscure because it varies by registrar. Better to document what to do with the common registrars. In Godaddy’s case for instance, you have to go to Manage Domains/Domain and then click on name server. You actually then need to click on “Change MX records too” and set them to the two magic domain names. This gets your mail redirectd properly.
Here are the magic URLs that you need:
* your true email address is actually email@example.com and your userid is firstname.lastname@example.org
* “http://bizatlarge.net”:http://bizatlarge.net is the main administrative interface. If you have anything but IE, it rejects you.
* “https://owa.atlarge.net”:https://owa.atlarge.net is the Outlook Web Access also known as the web interface for your mail. The domain name required is strange too, the domain is _bizatlarge_ and the user name is that strange “.” construction, so login as _bizatlarge\username.funnyid_. As another strangeness, don’t allow any special characters in the password. it does require SSL.
* “https://owa.atlarge.net/public”:https://owa.atlarge.net/public is where the public folders live as needed by Entourage
* mac.atlarge.net is the name of the LDAP server and this does require logon but not SSL. It is called mac.atlarge.net because this is what Entourage for the Mac needs for address lookup.
* smtp.atlarge.net is the name of the outgoing SMTP server you’ll need for an IMAP client like mail.app. You have to authenticate with the username built as email@example.com
* imap.atlarge.net is the name of the imap server for inbound mail and pop.atlarge.net is for POP3 access
* “http://oma.atlarge.net”:http://oma.atlarge.net is the simplified Outlook Mobile Access for smart phone browsers. This is also the site that ActiveSync on an Iphone needs when it asks for an Exchange server address, it really wants oma.atlarge.net.
* smtp-01.atlarge.net is where you point MX records and smtp-02.atlarge.net is the backup
* mail11-ps.atlarge.net is the Exchange mailbox address
Finally the information on how to move from an existing Exchange installation isn’t really there. here is the process:
* If you have Entourage 2004, create an archive that will have mail, contacts and calendars
* Do a File/Switch Identity to create a new identity. Create a new Exchange account and fill in using the URLs noted above.
* Choose File/Import and find the archive and load it up.