Exchange 2007 introduces a completely updated GUI management console to replace the Exchange System Manager of previous versions. This new Exchange Management Console is still a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, just like the old version, and still uses standard GUI elements like a navigation tree, result pane, wizards, property pages, and dialogs. However significant improvements have been made to greatly simplify the console experience without a complete paradigm shift - in short the console will provide a simplified, intuitive, and an organized management experience, but not a steep learning curve.
The apex of the changes have been in organizing the Exchange 2007 console into 4 work centers:
- Organization Configuration
- Server Configuration
- Recipient Configuration
The work centers directly map to the type of data that Exchange administrators need to manage in their exchange organization, providing a very consistent and intuitive experience. A work center is essentially a top level tree node with sub categories (or child tree nodes) as required. Because the console tree is now used strictly for navigation, all dynamic data was moved from the tree and into the result pane.
The outcome? A static navigation tree that is only 3 levels deep and provides an effective way of organizing actions and data for the administrator and rich result pane views.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Exchange 2003 tree and the Exchange 2007 tree:
Note: The Exchange 2003 tree could be expanded to 8 or more levels deep
As shown below, the fundamentals of the console aren't that different from Exchange System Manager. There is still a navigation tree and result pane. The newest addition is the action pane, which is essentially an extension of the right-click menu. The action pane allows all actions to easily be discovered at a glance without having to right click. The right click menu is still available of course; we understand people LOVE their right click! In fact, an administrator can choose to save some screen real estate by turning off the action pane completely by going to the View menu and choosing customize (see "Figure 3: Customize View").
Figure 3: Customize View
The organization work center is for global or system-wide configuration data. It houses features like E-mail Address Policies (formerly Recipient Policies), Address Lists, and Accepted Domains. In addition, this work center's sub-nodes are categorized by server-role. This is because configuration data can both be server-level and organization-wide and thus the server-role grouping provides an effective sub-categorization for both server and organization configuration work centers. It also makes it very easy to discover all of the configuration data for a particular server-role. The top-level node of the work center "Organization Configuration" is used for general global data that doesn't map to a specific server role, for instance, managing your Exchange Administrator roles is found on this top-level node.
In addition, the "view" used in the result pane for this work center is a tabbed view. The tabs across the top of the result pane allows the grouping of similar features & data together but still provides each feature with its own result pane; essentially it is another form of navigation.
Figure 4: Organization Work Center - Hub Transport Node
The server work center is for server centric data and contains features like database management and protocols. Like the organizational work center, its sub-categories are based on server-roles. The top-level node of this work center "Server Configuration" is used to provide an aggregate view of all Exchange 2007 and higher servers, regardless of server role. This is really beneficial for an administrator who wants to find a specific server by filtering without having to choose a role. The admin can then select the server and use the "Manage <ServerRole>" link to navigate to the correct sub-node to manage the settings for that server (see "Figure 6: Server Work Center " below for an example).
The result pane for this work center utilizes a work pane which allows us to show child objects for the server and which also has tabs to group similar features.
Figure 5: Server Work Center - Mailbox Node
Figure 6: Server Work Center - Manage Role Links
Recipient Configuration Work Center
The recipient work center is for management for all types of recipients, such as mailboxes, distribution groups, and mail enabled contacts. The functionality that used to be in Active Directory Users & Computers is now in the Exchange Management Console within the recipient work center. The sub-categories of this work center group similar recipient types, for instance the mailbox node will show user mailboxes, linked mailboxes, resource mailboxes, and so on... The top-level node of this work center "Recipient Configuration" provides an aggregate view of all recipient types. The "Disconnected Mailbox" node is used for mailboxes which have been disconnected from the Active Directory user account and remain in the mailbox database. You use this node to reconnect the mailbox to an AD user account.
Figure 7: Recipient Work Center
Toolbox Work Center
The toolbox work center is a launching pad for additional tools needed to manage exchange. These are typically tools for troubleshooting, diagnostics, and analyzing your Exchange system.
Example tools that can be found here are Queue Viewer and the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer.
Figure 8: Toolbox Work Center