It’s difficult to quantify just how useful the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) has been in its short existence, but let me hazard a guess – a heck of a lot.
For those who don’t know about ExRCA, let me explain that it’s a utility engineered by Microsoft to help Exchange administrators understand when their deployments are configured correctly to allow external network connectivity for clients such as Outlook Anywhere, Outlook Web App, or ActiveSync. Autodiscover validation is also supported as is testing inbound and outbound SMTP connections. Making changes on Client Access Servers or front-end servers and hoping that those changes had the required effect of exposing secure access to email to properly authorized clients used to be a long drawn-out process. Make the change. Test using a client of the desired type outside the firewall. Observe the response. Drink more Jolt Cola or another noxious liquid while contemplating failed results. Iterate until successful. In other words, a royal pain in the rear end.
In a nutshell, ExRCA provides you with a tool to test various methods to connect to your Exchange deployment using the mechanisms employed by different clients. Go to https://www.testexchangeconnectivity.com/, select the client type you want to test for either on-premises Exchange or , provide credentials for a test account that’s otherwise locked down, and off you go. You’ll soon find out whether your configuration works (which it obviously does in the example shown below) or if it doesn’t, and if so, why not. All-in-all, ExRCA makes this phase of an Exchange deployment much easier than it has ever been before.
ExRCA was created and is maintained by engineers who support Exchange. As such, these folk are well aware of the customer pain encountered when configuring remote connections to Exchange. Much of that wisdom and experience is encapsulated in ExRCA, which is one of the reasons why it’s so useful. And because its creators are well linked into Microsoft’s support channels, they understand the pain points reported by customers and can incorporate this data into new versions, which is the case in the release of Version 1.4, now available since July 3 and live for your testing pleasure.
According to its developers, amongst the changes in ExRCA 1.4 are:
In summary and my recommendation is that ExRCA should be in every Exchange administrator’s toolkit!
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