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Sayonara, Spam!

How to deploy Exchange 2003's Intelligent Message Filter on a front-end server that has a back-end cluster.

Chris: Our organization, like everyone else's these days, is doing our best to battle spam. We have a spam filter in place, but we want to try Microsoft's Intelligent Message Filter to supplement and help out our filter. We are using an Exchange cluster (two-node active/passive), and from doing a little research, apparently IMF is not supported in a clustered environment. We also use a front-end server, but I can't seem to find any information regarding installing the IMF on a front end.

Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.
— Mark McGill

Mark: Good question. Actually, you’re in luck because running IMF on an Exchange 2003 front-end server is supported. When I first saw your question, my first reaction was “In theory, this should work.” Of course, in IT the words “in theory” often get us into trouble. Since I already had an Exchange 2003 active/passive cluster in my test lab, testing my theory just required staging an Exchange 2003 front-end server.

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IMF does require Exchange 2003, so you'll need it installed on your front-end server. For help with the initial configuration of an Exchange 2003 front-end server, Microsoft’s "Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2000 Front-End and Back-End Topology" guide should help.

Once I had the front-end server installed and configured, I checked its SMTP mail forward capabilities by sending it some great spam e-mail. I sent along a few classics like "You’ve been approved for a new mortgage," "Verify your Paypal account," and, of course, "You’ve won the lottery!" I didn’t have to be too creative here, as I just took some nice spam that my Outlook filter had already collected. When I sent each message, it was properly forwarded by the front-end server.

Next came downloading and installing IMF on the front-end server. You can find help with the deployment and initial configuration of IMF by visiting the IMF home page at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/downloads/2003/imf/default.mspx. The Exchange "Intelligent Message Filter Deployment Guide" that can be downloaded from the IMF homepage provides a very good overview and easy-to-follow deployment steps for deploying the IMF. In particular, pages 17-19 should provide everything you need to configure IMF on the front-end server. After installing and configuring IMF, make sure to download the latest signature patterns at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=41026.

Once configured, to my dismay I was able to see that I was no longer winning the lottery a couple of times a day, nor was I receiving any of the great unsolicited stock tips! So while the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Deployment Guide doesn’t explicitly state "Here’s the setup for front-end servers," you should find its generic deployment procedures to be all you need. I hope this helps!

[Chris Wolf has just released Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress) and welcomes your virtualization questions for this column. —Editors]

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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