Bridging the Gap
Turn Outlook for Web Access into an offline mail reader.
For administrators who need a solution for remote sites, road warriors,
executives, partners and anyone else needing access a full Exchange 2000
mailbox over slow or disconnected links, Seaside Software has come up
with HiPerExchange—a solution designed to give you full offline
synchronization to your Outlook Web Access (OWA) server.
HiPerExchange provides a locally cached version of your OWA that performs
synchronization in the background anytime a connection is available. Unlike
OWA, it does require a locally installed client to do this and it's missing
some of the features of a full Outlook client. The installation is simple
Once you install the client piece you need to configure the accounts
that you will be accessing through HiPerExchange. Everything from this
point on is done through your browser. HiPerExchange can accommodate multiple
accounts on the same machine and does a very good job of handling the
Using HiPerExchange is very easy as well. Users simply go to the offline
version of their OWA through a shortcut you create or by right-clicking
the system tray icon and selecting HiPerExchange offline and they are
accessing their e-mail the same way hat they would through OWA. If a connection
is available, HiPerExchange will synchronize in the background even when
you are on offline mode. Speed is borderline incredible and the claim
of “sub-second response” is met very well. Obviously this
speed is not available until a large portion of the initial synchronization
has completed but, once that happens, it only transfers new information.
There are a few limitations since you are not in online mode—such
as accessing your Global Address List within your organization or utilizing
the find functionality—but if a connection is available, then you
can easily switch to online mode.
HiPerExchange uses the interface from OWA in Exchange 2000; if you are
running Exchange 2003 you will not get some features, such as spelling
checker or the new interface, at all. But it still worked flawlessly even
with an Exchange 2003 backend. In either case, the speed of accessing
your offline information is unbelievable.
I still have a few concerns about the product. I was not able to get
an answer about how (or whether) the local data store is encrypted. Nor
was I able to find anything on doing a mass deployment of HiPerExchange
via silent installation methods, or ways of automating the creation of
user accounts and server settings with no user interaction.
Overall, HiPerExchange has a place for remote users with poor connections.
Some of the marketing claims seem a bit exaggerated especially with regard
to consolidation of your servers, since most corporations are not pushing
the performance limits of their front end, or back end server environments
anyway. Also a large portion of the benefits of HiPerExchange are fulfilled
with Outlook 2003’s offline caching engine even without the requirement
for a Exchange 2003 Server. But for remote sites with no direct connectivity
to the Exchange servers other than OWA or the extreme road warrior who
cannot wait for the next Office Suite HiPerExchange will give them great
offline caching and background synchronization of their OWA Mailbox.
Brian Marranzini, MCSE, ITIL, A+ is an independent writer who works for a major software company.