Called Microsoft Exchange 2013 Learning, the community bills itself as a “central place for administrators and IT professionals to share new information, discoveries, experience and mistakes.”
Currently the community is organized around several areas of interest. As might be expected, there is a general discussion area and one to alert members to events they might be interested in.
There are also discussions about Exchange PowerShell, the client access role, the mailbox role, malware filters and hosted Exchange 2013.
So far, the fledgling community has attracted some 40 members. Discussion, though, is still thin and consists of moderator Vasili Syrakis trying to stoke member comments with some postings of his own.
He’s contributing his experience with the new Exchange as well asking his own questions about the software.
For example, he’s advising Exchange 2013 administrators to create a folder mailbox before creating a public folder in the server software.
“Public folder mailboxes contain the hierarchy information for a public folder,” he explained.
What Syrakis is referring to is the unique role assigned the first public folder mailbox created in Exchange 2013. That mailbox becomes the Public Folder Master Hierarchy Mailbox. It is the only one with a writable copy of the public folder hierarchy. All subsequent public folder mailboxes contain the hierarchy, but in read-only format.
That arrangement prevents conflicts as more public folders are created. Any hierarchal changes made by a user — such as creating or deleting a folder — are redirected to the Master Public Folder Mailbox, where the writable version of the hierarchy resides. Once the changes are made, they’re redirected to the other public folder mailboxes, thus avoiding possible conflicts.
By the way, managing public folders has also been changed in the new Exchange. The Public Folder Management console is gone and management must be done either through the Exchange Management Shell or the new Exchange Administration Center.
Syrakis is also calling on community members to share their experiences with the new Exchange, especially if they’re using it in a hosted environment, which he appears to be having some trouble with.
“Hosted Exchange 2013 has me frustrated,” he confessed.
“I have everything working except for public folders,” he continued. “I think it’s because I am using one of the older RC’s of Exchange 2013.”
In addition to Syrakis’s new community, Exchange knowledge seekers have plenty of places on the Web to acquire savvy about the software, not the least of which is Microsoft’s own forums. There you can find discussions covering every aspect of Exchange Server 2013.
Among the more popular Exchange 2013 forums are “general discussion” and “preview.” Discussions on administration, monitoring and performance; Outlook, OWA, POP and IMAP clients; and setup, deployment, updates and migration also attract a good amount of traffic.
Forums on subjects like high availability and disaster recovery; mobility and ActiveSync; extended components, tools and utilities; mail flow and secure messaging; unified messaging; and sharing and collaboration have less traffic than some of the other Exchange 2013 discussion groups.
As useful as Microsoft’s forums are, a Google+ community like Syrakis’s can bring a personal element to discussions that may be lacking in a company-sponsored forum. Of course, to become really useful, an online community has to reach a certain critical mass. It remains to be seen if Microsoft Exchange 2013 Learning can do that.