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Lori MacVittie

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F5 Friday: Enhancing Microsoft Exchange 2013

#Microsoft #Exchange load balancing is just the beginning…


Throughout the years, F5 BIG-IP has been a critical component supporting Microsoft Exchange to implement a variety of performance, security, and architectural requirements.

During that time, we've seen Microsoft Exchange evolve itself from a fairly simple, small business solution to a robust enterprise-class solution with an integrated ecosystem of services providing for communication, collaboration, and cooperation.

As Microsoft prepares to launch its latest version of Exchange, again we're seeing some evolutionary changes in its architecture. Most prominent is the elimination of a requirement for persistence; the Client Access Server (CAS) component is now a stateless proxy. For those paying attention through the years, the implementation of persistence within Microsoft Exchange deployments was more often than not architecturally designated to an F5 BIG-IP. 

Does the elimination of the requirement render BIG-IP obsolete? 

Of course not. While there's been some conjecture that layer 4 load balancing services will suffice for CAS 2013 (and for simple load balancing scenarios, it will) such statements are short-sighted in recognizing the increasing role of mobile and roaming clients, and the need to address core performance and security of public-facing applications (of which Exchange is certainly one). The delegation of persistence management to BIG-IP was often deemed most efficient because BIG-IP was a part of the architecture for other application delivery services – perimeter security, performance, server efficiency, multi-site resiliency, and, of course, scalability. email-growth

Scale and multi-site resiliency are imperatives today, with growth of users and devices and locations from which e-mail needs to and will be accessed. A distributed workforce can't afford to lose productivity due to slow delivery of e-mail or inability to readily access important content via any access medium, regardless of location. These are the kinds of challenges F5 BIG-IP addresses over and above routine tasks like load balancing.

These challenges have not been eliminated with Microsoft's most recent version of Exchange, and BIG-IP is still the ADC of choice for providing these services for deployments large and small. BIG-IP does layer 4 load balancing just as well as layer 7, after all, but also offers a robust set of delivery services that go well beyond either function. Ryan Korock, Technical Director focusing on Microsoft-partner initiatives, has a great list of 8 reasons why an ADC remains invaluable to Microsoft Exchange implementations that goes into more detail on what BIG-IP has – and continues – to offer Microsoft Exchange deployments.

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More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.