Working out of the office is standard practice these days. But how do you support those users with secure connections? No matter what version of Exchange you use -- 2000, 2003, 2007, or 2010 -- I've come up with a formula to help you remember what you'll need to make the connections happen smoothly.
1. Choose an out-of-office connection method
First, there are several key ways to connect, including through a Web browser using Outlook Web App, through a mobile device using an ActiveSync connection, through Outlook over the Internet without a VPN connection (called Outlook Anywhere, formerly known as HTTP over RPC), and through POP/IMAP connectivity.
The decision is not as easy as I thought. Some companies, for example, do not allow ActiveSync connections. The reason? Everyone shows up with a different device type, and they all have different levels of ActiveSync control possibilities. Rather than fight with folks about their mobile device of choice, these companies just deny access altogether -- an interesting approach. Providing standardized mobile devices to all company employees is another possibility, but most users believe their mobile device is an extension of themselves and don't want to be tethered to company policy on its use (or misuse, in some cases). Considering the amount of data you can pull down to your modern smartphone, you can see how this might be a huge security risk for admins.
2. Configure your out-of-office method
The moment you install Exchange 2007 or 2010, you have out-of-office capabilities already set up for Outlook Web App and ActiveSync connections. Outlook Anywhere still needs to be enabled and POP/IMAP services need to be turned on, but for the most part you are easily up and running with any of these methods.
The configuration is typically handled through the virtual folder settings, which are, happily, not accessed through the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. I say "happily" because ever since IIS 7 came out with the new interface for managing IIS, I get lost finding configuration options. With Exchange, you don't have to open IIS unless you plan on configuring SSL for Outlook Anywhere or POP/IMAP.