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Outlook Fat Client a la Carte Recipe

Ingredients

Client

  • Outlook fat client running on Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, or NT 4

  • Internet Explorer 5.5SP2 with December 2002 security update

  • Portal Configuration: Single Netlet rule with any portal server install level

Advantages

  • Users are able to use native Outlook interface.

  • Nice if required Exchange functionality extends beyond messaging.

Disadvantages

  • Does not work with newer versions of Windows like 2000 and XP because the hard-coded port which Outlook uses to communicate with Exchange is reserved by the OS.

  • Users would have to reconfigure the Exchange server address whenever they went from being remote to being on the intranet and vice versa.

  • Sun ONE Portal server 3.0 does not currently support modern browsers for the NetApps (NetMail, NetFile, and Netlet).

  • Netlet traffic may be denied by some proxying firewalls or proxies which perform SSL packet-level investigation.

What

  1. Configure a Netlet rule to listen to Exchange traffic on client port 135.

  2. Set the Exchange Server address as the local loopback address (localhost or 127.0.0.1)

How

To Create the Outlook/Exchange Netlet Rule:

  1. Log in to the Portal Administration Console.

  2. Select Manage Domains.

  3. From the list, select the domain name for which the Exchange users are mapped.

  4. Expand the Applications key.

  5. Select Netlet.

  6. Add Exchange|null|false|135|exchange-server|135 in the form field under the Netlet Rules attribute (where exchange-server is the fully qualified address of the Exchange server).

  7. Select Add.

  8. Uncheck Warning for Popup windows.

  9. Scroll to the bottom of the page and check Apply changes to all subRoles.

  10. Select Submit.

  11. Log out of the Portal Administration Console.

  12. Log in as a user to the Portal Gateway.

  13. Verify that the static Netlet rule is configured by looking at the output of the browser's Java_ console, and make sure there is an entry which refers to local:135 which indicates that the Netlet applet has bound to that particular port.

NOTE

A bind error in a warning pop-up indicates that the OS is a newer version, or that there is already a service listening on that port.

To Change the Exchange Server Address in Outlook:

This procedure used Windows 98SE as an example.

  1. From the Control Panel, select the Mail icon.

  2. From the E-Mail accounts window, select View or change existing e-mail accounts.

  3. Select Next.

  4. Select the Exchange server instance name.

  5. Select Change.

  6. Enter localhost in the Server address field titled Microsoft Exchange Server.

  7. Enter the user name of the mailbox in the User Name Field.

  8. Select More Settings.

  9. Change the name of the Connection to Exchange Remote or something else easily discernible.

  10. Confirm the warning that you cannot log on to the Exchange server if the Netlet is not running (if it isn't running at the time). Also, be sure in the future to launch the Netlet before Outlook to avoid similar kinds of warnings.

  11. Select Next and Finish.

  12. Verify Exchange connectivity by logging in to the Portal Gateway if you have not already done so, and launch Outlook once the Netlet had loaded.

Look at the Java console and verify that your login request was sent
through the Netlet. The output will look something like what you see
 in the following code box:
Netlet got connection on port: 135 from port:1294 to 
gateway:s1-gateway.sun.com on port:443
Netlet Exchange
rpc packet size is 60
rpc packet size is 152
Netlet Exchange Dynamic Port: 1026
Netlet got connection on port: 1026 from port:1298 to 
gateway:s1-gateway.sun.com on port:443
Netlet got connection on port: 1026 from port:1301 to 
gateway:s1-gateway.sun.com on port:443
Netlet got connection on port: 1026 from port:1304 to 
gateway:s1-gateway.sun.com on port:443

Why

When the Sun ONE Portal Server 3.0 software was initially offered, Exchange integration was done through a Netlet connection. By listening on Port 135, the Netlet applet could route traffic through a secure RC5-encrypted tunnel over the public wire directly to the Portal Gateway where it could then be proxied to the Exchange server. At the time, Exchange did not offer Outlook Web Access, so using the Netlet and the native Outlook client was the only way remote users could access their Exchange data securely without requiring the use of a dedicated virtual private network (VPN). Changes in the newer Microsoft operating systems prevent the Netlet applet from binding to port 135, and the mapping cannot be altered because that port is hard coded in the Outlook client. Newer versions of OWA which extend the feature set previously only available using the Outlook fat client, also limits the appeal of this particular recipe. This recipe is best used:

  • If the corporate standard clients remain on an earlier version of Windows than 2000 and XP

  • If the messaging program of choice is Outlook

  • If end users have enough skills to change the server name between the corporate LAN and WAN, or able to add multiple email accounts, if necessary

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