- Don't install the wrong version of Server when working with high availability options. If clustering services are involved, you need the enterprise version of the Server.
- Don't install just an Exchange server. You need to see how the client side will work. Install an OS with Outlook 2003 and 2007 to really make sure you know what is going on in the user world. Don't forget to play with Outlook Web Access too.
- Don't forget to learn how to set up your true incoming and outgoing SMTP connections. Typically in a learning environment you don't worry about that because you aren't working with a live server, but it is a must if you plan on putting a real server out on the Net. DNS records and so forth... it's all important.
- If you're working with Unified Messaging, don't forget to bring in a telephony expert. Most likely, you won't fully understand the configuration for the back end without help.
- Don't think you can rely completely on the GUI. Exchange has a few PowerShell-only configuration options. Get reacquainted with the command-line, my friend. It's not disappearing and any Exchange guru (or Windows guru) worth his title these days is a command-line lover.
Can you share a favorite command?
Under the Exchange Management Shell there are several Test cmdlets that I think are just amazing. For example, if you just type in Test-ServiceHealth you will see the roles you have installed, the services necessary to run those roles and if any are not running. A very quick method of checking where a problem might be coming from. I also like the Test-SystemHealth cmdlet because it is a command-line version of the more graphical tool 'Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA)'.
Advice for newbies I'm a huge fan of certification. Studying for a certification exam forces me to drill down into aspects of a new OS or application. I become more deeply educated because of the exam. So, I believe it is a wise endeavor to prepare for the Microsoft exams on Exchange.
Parting words Exchange is ever-evolving. First, get caught up on what Microsoft currently has to offer. Second, stay on top of the game by preparing for the next release of Exchange. Being a messaging guru isn't something that happens overnight, but I've found that we have a very happy group in the messaging family. There is always room for one more! To quote Neuman from Seinfeld ‘When you control the mail… you control INFORMATION!'