What Is the Exchange Management Console?

Be master of your exchange servers with the exchange management console.

The Exchange Management Console (EMC) is a graphical user interface that was developed by Microsoft in 2007. It aims to help IT professionals better manage MS Exchange servers. The Exchange Management Console allows you to easily manage server exchanges without using a terminal and writing commands to execute tasks. To offer greater flexibility, Microsoft also built it on top of PowerShell. This also allowed for remote commands and automation scripting with PowerShell’s commandlets. The greatest benefit? EMC also offers point-and-click access and a wide variety of exchange servers.   

In this guide, I’ll tell you all about the Exchange Management Console. Let’s start with the basics!

Exchange Management Console In-Depth

The EMC uses role-based access. Depending on your role, you’ll see different servers that your security group allows you access to. In general, the EMC handles these 5 things

  1. Exchange Hub Transport 
  2. Client Access, Unified Messaging
  3. Mailbox Server 
  4. Edge Transport Server 

This allows an administrator to see all the servers in a single, easy-to-use console. 

While the EMC is a web-based console, its setup can handle hybrid server configurations. In other words, you can use it for cloud and on-prem servers, which also makes it a very well-liked tool. The EMC also has multiple server roles, which makes it a one-stop shop for server administrators. 

That being said, let’s dive into the Exchange Management Console server roles. 

Exchange Management Console Server Roles

You’ll be interacting with the server roles for a large part of the server management that you’ll be doing with the console. The EMC will also allow you easier access to these server roles with its graphical interface. That, in turn, saves you the trouble of writing a ton of commands on the terminal. Let’s get familiar with 4 EMC roles and what they do

1. Mailbox

This server role contains the mailboxes database and the public folder database. You can use it to host mailboxes and public folders. This is also where you’ll manage mailboxes: create new ones, delete old ones, etc. The mailbox role also allows you to maintain folders with any public information. 

2. Client Access

This server role permits administrators to access mailboxes with all protocols. This role also lets administrators view and manage configurations. Where? Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Exchange ActiveSync, and the Offline Address Book.

Manage your configurations!

3. Hub Transport

The hub transport routes messages and processes them inside the Exchange server. It applies the routing rules, handles the mail streams, and delivers the messages to the correct mailboxes.

4. Unified Messaging

This server role allows you to set up voice messaging, fax, and email messaging into each Exchange mailbox. It also allows users to access messages across phones, tablets, computers, and Outlook Voice Access.

Now that I’ve told you all about the EMC roles, I also want to touch on the server nodes. 

Server Nodes in Exchange Management Console

Moving on to the server nodes. These nodes will give you more access to make more detailed changes on macro and micro levels. Let’s talk about 6 nodes and what they help you with:

1. Microsoft Exchange Node

This is the main node in the EMC. When you select it, it divides the screen into 2 panes

  1. Post-installation tasks 
  2. Community resources 

The post-installation tasks pane shows a list of all the tasks that you must complete after installing a new server. Conversely, the community resources pane displays links that give info about the exchange server. Admins can also use this node to add a new exchange forest and manage existing forests from this node, too.   

2. Microsoft Exchange On-Premises Node

This node will also show you 2 panes:

  1. Organizational Health
  2. Customer Feedback

Organizational Health displays information about the environments. Customer feedback allows for varying degrees of info collection. That helps you control how much info you send back to Microsoft for analysis. 

Image of a line graph drawn on graph paper
Know what analytics you share about your environments!

3. Organization Configuration Node

Making any configuration changes on this node will affect the entire organization. Yet, you should remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Be careful! Whatever changes you make here will also affect everyone in the company. If you decide to block all incoming mail from external senders, no one will get any emails from outside your organization. 

4. Server Configuration Node

This node will show all MS Exchange servers in the organization. It also has a section to allow for configuration of server certificates. This will allow you to keep track of your certificates. It’ll also help you know when they’re expiring, so you can update them accordingly. 

5. Recipient Configuration Node

This node handles mailbox move requests. Admins can allow or deny requests and follow status updates. Most importantly, admins can also change configuration settings at the mailbox recipient’s level. 

6. Toolbox Node

The toolbox is, well, a toolbox! It has many useful programs for configuration management, performance, security, and utilities. Another very useful analyzer tool is the Exchange Analyzer Best Practice Tool. It also helps you maintain some best practices to upkeep your efficiency.

The Bottom Line 

When you work with exchange servers, you’ll never live a dull moment. That also means you need to prepare yourself with the right tools. This way, you’ll offer the best possible customer service. 

Microsoft’s exchange management tool is also very important. It allows you to track the environments, process requests, make configuration changes, etc. The best part? You only need a click of a mouse thanks to the graphical user interface. I strongly recommend you also use the Remote Connectivity Analyzer in tandem with EMC. That way, you’ll be bulletproof with MS exchanges. 

Have more questions or looking for more related reading material? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

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FAQ

Can I use the Remote Connectivity Analyzer in tandem with the EMC?

Yes, you can. It’s also better to use it with the EMC. They’re separate but powerful tools you’ll need to use if you’re working in Exchange server management. The more MS tools you use, the better the server admin you’ll be. 

What’s the best way to handle post-installation tasks?

Automate. You’ll want to make a list of your post-installation tasks. Then, determine which ones you can automate and which ones need to remain manual. The exchange server management console is also highly compatible with PowerShell, so writing scripts for the EMC should be painless. It’ll also be helpful to you and your department at the same time. 

Can the recipient configuration node be used to override user settings?

Yes, they can, but you should only use this rarely. It’s a bit intrusive to the user. You’ll want to have a good reason to reconfigure other users’ configurations. Use your power with a light touch!

What is customer feedback?

This is an analytics feed that goes back to Microsoft. This provides Microsoft with the user’s usage data. For example, how they use the tools on the program and what errors they might encounter. Microsoft analyzes this data, then uses it to improve the user experience. Some companies also like to turn off this feature due to privacy concerns. 

What is the Exchange Analyzer Best Practice Tool?

The Exchange Analyzer Best Practice tool measures a server role’s compliance with Microsoft’s best practice rules. It also groups them into 8 categories based on effectiveness, trustworthiness, and reliability. You can then use these measurements to compare Microsoft’s compliance tables. That way, you’ll see where your organization falls short, and you’ll also know what you need to improve. 

Resources

Health Report to Manage Your Exchange Servers

Learn more about using health reports for the exchange management console here.

Decommissioning Legacy Exchange Servers 

Learn how to decommission legacy exchange servers here.

Exchange Server Remote Connectivity Analyzer 

Learn more about how to use the MS remote connectivity analyzer here.

How to Fix Exchange Server Corruption 

Learn how to fix a corruption problem on MS Exchange servers here

Setting up Mac Mail and Outlook on Exchange Server

Learn how to configure Mac mail and outlook on an MS exchange server here

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