Using Exchange Server in a non-Windows enterprise environment can be a tricky, yet unavoidable situation for some organizations.  In this post I will highlight some of the best methods you can apply to integrate Exchange Server in a non-Windows environment.

Built-in Exchange Connectors

Exchange Server 2003 and the earlier versions of Exchange, come with embedded connectors that can be used for Exchange to work with other email systems. For example, the GroupWise Connector or Lotus Notes Connector can be used to connect to the respective systems to facilitate directory updates as well as email messages. However, it is important to note that Exchange 2010 no longer comes with these connectors. As such, the use of the built-in connectors in Exchange 2003 may only be good as an interim measure for businesses that may still be on this old version of Exchange Server.

Forefront Identity Manager

Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) is a product from Microsoft that helps to manage identity information from a variety of heterogeneous directory and non-directory identity stores, presenting it as a single local view that makes for ease of management. The key capabilities of FIM include the management of users, credentials, access and policy. Management agents (MA) within FIM are used to communicate with a specific type of directory that includes the importing or exporting of data.

In short, it is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to synchronize user between Exchange Server 2010, Active Directory and other support third-party directories such as Novell eDirectory, LDAP and UNIX directories. Oracle and SAP are also supported, as with the ability for users to reset their own passwords via a web management interface.

Though FIM greatly simplifies the task of integrating a heterogeneous network, a good understanding of the various environments is necessary in order to deploy the pertinent MA. As such, expect to devote a significant amount of time to properly study, plan and deploy FIM.

Windows Server 2008 Services for UNIX

In situation where an existing UNIX implementation needs to be integrated with an Exchange Server 2010 forest, Windows 2008 Services for UNIX can be leveraged upon to provide the needed interoperability between the UNIX and Windows environment. Earlier versions of this suite of tools were released as Services for UNIX, with the latest separately released version being 3.5; the tools were subsequently incorporated within Windows Server 2008.

Specifically tested versions of UNIX that will work with Windows Server 2008 include Sun Solaris 7.x to 10, Red Hat Linux 8.0 and later, Hewlett-Packard HP-UX 11i, IBM AIX 5L 5.2, and the Apple Mac OS X. As with FIM, a successful implementation of Services for UNIX requires proper understanding of identity management concepts in UNIX and adequate time for planning.

The above tips simply represent a snapshot of the options available to Exchange administrators. Depending on organizational needs, other solutions, such as the writing of custom scripts using ActivePerl or the Windows Scripting Host to reduce overheads and tweak account parameters, may be viable options too.

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