When you're troubleshooting a tough problem on your Microsoft Exchange server, where do you go for inspiration? How about if you're looking for ways to improve your procedures to save time or money? Maybe you step outside and park yourself under a big tree and gaze skyward. Maybe you close your office door, turn off the overhead lights, and let your mind wander as you contemplate a lava lamp. Maybe you take your newspaper and visit the bathroom for a long cogitate.

Of course, I hope some of you turn to the Exchange Server and Outlook content available from Windows IT Pro. But I'll bet most of you didn't think of finding an answer by taking a six-month 4WD trip across Australia, as Ben Duncan, the founder and CEO of email systems provider AtMail, is doing.

Beginning this week, Duncan took to the road in a Land Rover specially outfitted with a computer development environment, an AtMail email server, satellite broadband access, solar panels, and a rooftop tent for sleeping. According to the company press release, "Duncan will combine adventure with innovation, using his time in the wilds to draw on the solitude and awesome power of nature to develop new technologies."

With offices in the United States and Australia, AtMail provides an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server—either as the Atmail Email Server software or as a complete turnkey solution in the Atmail Appliance. The AtMail solution includes shared contacts, calendars, and tasks—as all businesses have come to rely on—and syncs with Outlook 2007/2003/2000 via the Atmail Outlook Sync Utility.

AtMail supports SMTP, POP3, and IMAP connections, and provides its own web mail client. A recent update added push email support for the iPhone, Windows Mobile devices, and other ActiveSync-capable devices. And here's a feature that even Microsoft hasn't figured out yet: The Atmail Email Server uses a Microsoft SQL Server database backend for all that unstructured user data.

Duncan has hit the road for inspiration before. Back in 2000, he made a similar pilgrimage around Australia—although without quite so many of his current high-tech gadgets—when he was developing Atmail. In addition to any innovations to Atmail that he might develop, Duncan's current adventure will showcase how mobile or remote workers can be fully functional and integrated members of any working team—as long as they have good email and collaboration products.

You can follow Duncan's progress on his AtMail blog. And don't forget to check out the pics from the live streaming CarCam—this is going to be really exciting. Or at least it will be once he gets out of the city and into the wilds.

Related Reading: