Product Review: U-BTech Solutions Exchange Tasks 365

Product: U-BTech Solutions Exchange Tasks 365

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Introduction

You might think that the company that makes the solution would be the best for creating the management tools to work with that solution. Unfortunately in the case of Exchange on-premise and the hosted Office 365 management options you would be mistaken. With a larger number of organizations going with the Hybrid approach (on-premise/cloud-based mixed) for email provision the need for an easy-to-use tool for managing Exchange recipients is glaring. And U-BTech Solutions has created just what folks have been asking for.

Features

Keep in mind the purpose of this tool is not to replace your MMC-base Exchange Management Console or your web-based Exchange Admin Center (for 2013 deployments). It has a primary focus on mailbox management and recipient management. The tool uses Microsoft’s API and security standards to ensure you get a solid experience without having to worry about compromised security.

Features include the following:

Standard Edition

  • Manage users, mailboxes and groups in the cloud (Office 365).
  • Manage users, mailboxes and groups on-premise (Exchange Server 2007/2010/2013).
  • Manage Office 365 Licenses in the cloud.
  • Manage multiple accounts (cloud/on-premise) from a single interface.
  • Supports both 32 and 64 bit platforms.
  • Can run bulk operations on multiple objects with only a few clicks.
  • Can manage up to 2 total connections (on premise and online).

Enterprise Edition

  • Includes all features of the Standard edition.
  • Allows management of options and functionality using Group Policy. This solution is perfect for organizations who wish to deploy Exchange Tasks 365 to help desk personnel.
  • Can manage up to 5 total connections (on premise and online).

Note:
You can obtain a 14-day trial license for free through the U-BTech site. Check out the link at the end of the review.

Installation and Configuration

The installation couldn’t be easier. I ran it on a server running Server 2008 R2 in an environment running Exchange 2013 (just so I could test the latest version of Exchange with the tool, which according to the documentation version 1.4 supports). It was a Next-Next-Finish install with no special questions other than where do you want the software installed and do you want a desktop icon and to have it launch when the tool finishes installing. It doesn’t get any easier. That of course had me leery about the configuration side.

Upon launch it says “To start working with the tool, either add a new Exchange Connection or select an existing connection from the left pane.” I added a new connection and went with an On-Premise connection through the simple wizard, shown in Figure 1 (note, both Office 365 and Exchange On Premise options are demonstrated in the Figure).

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Figure 1:
Add Exchange Connection

The connection required no effort to make (it autodiscovered the Exchange environment) and I immediately had management control over my on-premise recipients. I could create new mailboxes or peer into and adjust the properties of existing mailboxes (as shown in Figure 2). I could quickly enable or disable mailbox features (shown in Figure 3).

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Figure 2:
Properties of a Mailbox

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Figure 3:
Mailbox Features

Connecting to Office 365 was just as easy. I simply had to provide my email and password that I typically use to access the admin tools through the web-based portal login. It connected up and found my list of recipients in minutes.

So in under 10 minutes, with absolutely no training or even a quick start document needed, I had Exchange Tasks 365 installed and connected to both my on-premise and my Office 365 environments and could manage all my recipients. The tool includes extensive search capabilities based upon specific attribute data if necessary so you can locate recipients by specific information. You can select multiple recipients (within a specific connector, not across connectors) and perform bulk configuration in this way. You can also right-click a recipient and choose Reset Password (a big help for those Office 365 users who constantly forget their password).

Note:
One of the frustrations for Office 365 admins is that the password expires for end-users. There are some work-arounds and Microsoft explains how to fix this here (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2666768). A very cool new feature (inspired by yours truly) is the ability to configure users with the option for “Password Never Expires” right through the GUI as opposed to having to run PowerShell cmds to fix this issue. That’s a great feature!

It was also really interesting that I could see deleted mailboxes on both my on-premise and hosted Exchange and I could restore those mailboxes if I wanted. Not to mention the ease with which I could manage quotas, delivery options, anti-spam (on the on-premise side) and more.

Beyond mailbox properties though there were tasks I could run against a mailbox (or mailboxes). Selecting a mailbox recipient (or multiple recipients) you can right-click and choose Exchange Tasks. This brings you to a list of additional options that include move requests, UM and archive enabling, obtaining mailbox statistics, and a host of other options (shown in Figure 4).

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Figure 4:
Exchange Tasks

Pricing and Support

Pricing appears simple but that depends on the number of users that you wish to give use of the tool. For the Standard Edition it is $799 per workstation and you get 1 year of support for no additional fee. You can choose two additional support options (Silver 2-years support for 20% extra and Gold 3-years support for 30% extra). You can upgrade to the Enterprise Edition for $1199 per workstation and then consider support options as well. Keep in mind this is a per user, per machine licensing method. You have to purchase a single license for each user who is going to manage recipient mailboxes using Exchange Tasks 365.

In addition to the above editions, a new “Partner On Record” edition is offered, which is feature-equivalent to the Standard edition. A single license for this edition is given free to organizations who register their Office 365 tenant with U-BTech Solutions.

As for Support, I found that the FAQ page was all I really needed to get everything up and running and have my questions answered: http://www.u-btech.com/support/exchange-tasks-365-faq.html. The real key to the tool is understanding recipient management prior to working with it. If you do, the tool just makes it easier and manageable under one roof.

Final Thoughts

I found Exchange Tasks 365 to be better than expected on all fronts. Easy to install, easy to configure, and filled with all the appropriate management elements for recipients. That’s what the tool promised and that is what they delivered. I loved it. And I especially liked that they put some real effort into the graphic elements of the tool as well. Although there aren’t a lot of graphics you can tell that they put effort into the icons used and even tried to make the tool graphical and fun with the tool logo blinking and flashing and such when you are performing tasks. These aren’t functionality points but they lend more toward style and creativity points in my book. Too often admin tools are boring and it’s like admins are banished to a world of dialog screens and command-line boredom so the efforts of U-BTech are much appreciated.

A great tool in my book. If you are managing an Office 365 deployment (with or without on-premise) and especially if you are a consultant with multiple 365 environments, this is a worthwhile investment.

MSExchange.org Rating 5/5

Learn more about U-BTech Solutions Exchange Tasks 365 or request a free trial here.

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