Starting with Exchange Server 2003's release, Microsoft has put much more effort into building administrator-friendly supplementary documentation. The product documentation included on the CD has always been decent, but now the Exchange user education (UE) team has been tasked with producing supplementary white papers that cover selected aspects of Exchange administration in much more detail. Throughout the book, we'll refer to various white papers and how-to documents published by Exchange UE (and their Windows counterparts). The canonical source for these documents is Microsoft's Exchange library (http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/library), although many of the most useful documents are posted in various places on Microsoft TechNet (http://www.microsoft.com/technet). To be more specific, some of the papers and documents you should be familiar with include:
The Exchange Server 2003 Administration Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/library/admingde.mspx) is a detailed guide to a number of common Exchange administrative tasks. More importantly, the guide explains why you might need to take various actions, although on its own, it's no substitute for a good understanding of how Exchange works.
The Exchange Server 2003 Security Operations Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=6a80711f-e5c9-4aef-9a44-504db09b9065&dis-playlang=en) describes Microsoft's recommendations for hardening Exchange Server 2003 servers in various roles. There's a corresponding guide for Exchange 2000 as well.
The Exchange Server 2003 Deployment Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/library/depguide.mspx) discusses deployment and configuration issues in some depth; it's intended for administrators and architects who are planning new Exchange Server 2003 deployments, migrations from other messaging systems, or upgrades from previous versions of Exchange.
The Exchange 2000 Installation and Setup white paper (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/exchange2000/prod-docs/library/e2kias.asp) describes how Exchange setup works and how to make it do what you want.
Because these URLs are subject to change, we maintain a list of them at this book's companion web site at http://www.exchangecookbook.com.
Most of Microsoft's command-line tools have reference help available,
usually visible when you invoke the tool with the
/? switch. In addition, searching for the
tool's name in Windows' online help will often produce valuable
additional information. To keep the focus tight for the recipes, we're
not going to document every mode of every switch of every command, so
this help may be valuable.
There's good news and bad news. The good news is that Microsoft
invests a great deal of effort in building their knowledge base (KB),
and it contains a huge wealth of information on Exchange and Windows.
The bad news is that actually finding the nugget of information you're
looking for can be very difficult, and the Microsoft support site's
lame search interface doesn't make it any easier. Throughout the book,
we'll cite KB articles by number and title "MS KB 316279 (XGEN: Tools
That Are Included with the Exchange 2000 Server CD-ROM)" is an
example. If you're searching for articles on a particular topic, the
fastest way to find them is often to use Google and append
your search terms.
Documenting your development platform thoroughly is very important if you want to attract developers to it. Microsoft understands this pretty well; the MSDN web site is probably the best example of a broad platform documentation site currently in operation. For each of the platforms Microsoft supports (Exchange and Windows being the two most interesting for us), there are tons of samples showing how particular functions and objects in the platform SDK can be used. The Exchange Server 2003 SDK (linked from http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/e2k3/e2k3/e2k3_welcome_to_exchange.asp) is updated quarterly, and provides a wealth of information.
MSDN is the best source for complete documentation on CDOEX, CDOEXM, and WMI; in the "See Also" section for many of the recipes, you'll find pointers to documentation from MSDN.
When first learning Exchange, the vibrant and active community of administrators who gave freely of their time to help newbies was of great help to all of us. That spirit is still alive and well in a number of places, bolstered by a significant online presence of Microsoft support engineers and volunteer Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) who are selected by Microsoft on the basis of the quality and volume of online assistance they provide.
There are a number of very good places to learn more about, or get help with, Exchange:
The Microsoft.public.exchange.* Usenet hierarchy is populated by MVPs and Microsoft support engineers, although the amount of noise is sometimes high. Thanks to the power of Google Groups, this is often my first stop when I'm trying to figure out how to do something that's new to me.
The Microsoft Exchange product group maintains a group blog, cleverly titled "You Had Me at EHLO," at http://blogs.msdn.com/exchange. It's a must-read.
The Exchange2000 and Exchange2003 mailing lists at Yahoo! Groups are valuable places to ask, and answer, questions about the respective versions of Exchange. Their signal-to-noise ratios are still pretty good, even though both lists are busy.
Andy Webb and his team at Simpler-Webb, Inc., maintain a set of FAQs for various versions of Exchange at http://www.swinc.com/resource/exchange.htm. These FAQs are by no means comprehensive, but they cover most of the big issues for Exchange 5.5, Exchange 2000, and Exchange Server 2003.
There are a number of web sites that cover Exchange more or less exclusively. Among them are the MSExchange group blog maintained by Chris Meirick, Neil Hobson, and William Lefkovics (http://www.msexchangeblog.org); the MSExchange.org web site, and the Exchange and Outlook Administrator site (http://www.exchangeadmin.com), companion to the magazine of the same name. The Windows IT Pro Magazine web site (http://www.windowsitpro.com) also carries a good deal of Exchange content.
Secure Messaging with Exchange Server 2003 (Robichaux; Microsoft Press, 2004; ISBN 0735619905) focuses entirely on securing Exchange Server 2003 and its various components, including Outlook Web Access, the information store, and Exchange ActiveSync. (A companion edition, Secure Messaging with Exchange Server 2000, is specific to Exchange 2000.) There is also a companion web site maintained by Paul, with sample chapters, at http://www.e2ksecurity.com.
Exchange Server 2003 24Seven (McBee; Sybex, 2004; ISBN 0782142508) is an excellent and comprehensive treatment of Exchange Server 2003 administration. Its predecessor, Exchange 2000 24Seven (McBee; Sybex, 2001; ISBN 0782127975), is equally good.
Exchange Server 2003 Distilled (Schnoll; Wiley, 2004; ISBN 032124592X) is a solid, no-nonsense reference book written by a member of the Exchange documentation team. It contains lots of tips, tricks, and tidbits that we haven't seen covered elsewhere.
Besides these books, there are a number of magazines that cover Exchange, Windows, and scripting administration topics:
Windows IT Pro Magazine (http://www.windowsitpro.com) covers Exchange each month, along with general Windows and Active Directory coverage.
The Exchange and Outlook Administrator newsletter (http://www.exchangeadmin.com) is a monthly ad-free newsletter published by the Windows and .NET folks; it features nothing but articles on Exchange and Outlook, mostly focused on intermediate- to advanced-level administrative tasks.
The Windows Scripting Solutions newsletter (http://www.winnetmag.com/WindowsScripting/) focuses exclusively on Windows scripting, including WMI and ADSI. Much of the material applies to Exchange management as well.