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Planning Guidelines

Use the following guidelines to plan a Microsoft Exchange Server installation.

Assess your needs and resources   Collect information about your current installation and determine what services your users require. For example, do users need to send e-mail and exchange information by using public folders? Do you need to upgrade server or client software or hardware?

Determine your network topology   Make sure that there is basic network connectivity between your servers and clients. Before Microsoft Outlook can connect to a Microsoft Exchange Server computer, network connectivity must already be established. For example, clients and servers must use the same network protocols.

Consider your Windows NT domain structure   Microsoft Exchange Server relies on Windows NT domains to provide security such as user logon authentication. In your plan, make sure that user accounts are located in the same domain as your Microsoft Exchange Server computer or in a trusted domain. Otherwise, users and services will not be properly validated.

Consider network bandwidth requirements   You should ensure that there is sufficient network bandwidth between servers to support the services you want to provide. For example, if you expect message traffic between servers to be low and public folder use to be light, you may not need as much bandwidth as another organization with heavy mail and public folder usage.

Determine the number of sites   If your organization has many servers or is distributed across a wide geographic area, consider dividing your organization into multiple sites. You should organize sites so that servers connected using connections of similar bandwidth are placed in the same site. In general, make your sites as large as possible.

Establish naming conventions   Decide on naming conventions for objects in your organization such as sites, servers, and mailboxes. Consider how your naming conventions will affect e-mail addresses generated for foreign systems (such as the Internet). You should also choose names that won't be affected by organizational changes.

Develop a migration strategy   If you have an existing e-mail system, you must have a strategy for migrating users and data from the existing system to Microsoft Exchange Server. Consider how users use the existing system and determine how that functionality will be migrated to Microsoft Exchange Server or replaced by Microsoft Exchange Server tools. For more information, see Microsoft Exchange Server Migration.

Schedule the rollout   Schedule the phases of your rollout. Consider including the following in your schedule:

Design and test a prototype   When you finish planning your rollout, test your plan before implementing it. Design a prototype installation that incorporates all the functions and coexistence that you plan to have in your organization. Use the prototype to test implementation issues, such as server and client installation procedures, hardware and network compatibility, network bandwidth, and coexistence with or migration from other mail systems.