Re: Using MS Exchange for an intranet?

Subject: Re: Using MS Exchange for an intranet?
From: "Sergej Rinc" <info -at- sinonim -dot- si>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 11:35:56 +0100


(I decided to not reply to any message on any mailing list anymore before
I live only from my technical writing but that would be the day in our
country ... so)

> Management's argument against setting up an HTML-based intranet is that
> of the people who will be editing/adding content aren't technical and
> wouldn't be comfortable editing HTML pages or FTPing files to/from the

If document creating/posting/updating plus discussions are the key
features of your planned intranet, then editing HTML pages or FTPing files
is not the issue any more - if you have Windows NT Server (recommended
2000), IIS Server and Office Server Extensions (OSE, a superset of Front
Page Extensions) on the server and Office 2000 (especially Outlook 2000) on
the client computers.

This way you can allready build a nice intranet infrastructure. At least
one additional component needed is a mail server - OSE offers subscriptions
and e-mail notifications (that subscribed documents have changed on the
server) for what it needs a mail server, and that can be Exchange in your
case. And for indexing and searching you could install Site Server etc. A
powerhorse database is not needed since OSE setup installs MSDE (Microsoft
Data Engine - compatible with MS SQL Server) if it doesn't find SQL Server
on the machine and you can upgrade to it later.

So for publishing documents this is more flexible than using public
folders in Exchange which don't offer a subcription and (automatic)
notification model - you have to use one existing messages forum for e-mails
only exchange. Now I won't discuss security issues (for me NT sucks),
Microsoft-only architecture and scalability to extranet but only suggest one
additional idea.

Any intranet is not practical (for my opinion) if it's not somehow related
or even a superset of a public website. You probably need to publish (some
of) your intranet documents to website. For the above scenario this could be
done very well with some document converter product. There are several, I'm
currently experimenting with an Inso OutSide In Server (OIS). You could for
example have one folder in your server that would serve for OIS - whatever
it finds here it converts according to webmaster rules and publishes to the
web. So for finished, ready-to-publish documents one authorized user would
just publish finished DOC, XLS, PPT file (many others possible) to this
folder and OIS magic would do the rest. And you can afford some more
sunshine :-).

But consider also this:
1) for mailing lists management Exchange (and with MLM products for it)
simply is not powerful enough or I should write MLM products for Exchange
are not powerful enough. You can't beat LISTSERV, Lyris and some for the
best MLM.
2) Intranet applications as forms in Exchange? Forget it. For me it's much
easier to create a web application with scripting than struggling with
Visual Basic but then again I'm an educated programmer. You also have to
have a fast intranet to transfer huge applications to the client which is
hardly an issue with a web application (only HTML with scripts and maybe
small Java applet is transferred).
3) Redundancy, backup, security of Exchange? First is very hard but possible
to do, second usually requires several hours of downtime while the third is
tied to NT (with at least one security hole/bug discovered every week). I'm
allready in the Linux world and some mail servers are quite good. With a lot
less headaches attached, too.

> Thanks,
> --kaya

You're welcome. Did you know that in one of the most popular teenage
movies in our country (Summer in a Shell) an actress had your name? But that
was not the reason I've written all above. Or was it? :-)

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