Tales from the Trenches: Exhausting Exchange
The “easy” part of installing new software isn’t always what it should be.
- By Paul Y. Kalumba
- October 01, 2000
For you to appreciate this tale, I have to mention that
to get your hands on technical help where I live (in Central
Africa) is difficult. Internet links are poor and trying
to browse TechNet from the busy Microsoft site is next
to impossible. I was employed as a network administrator
for the first GSM cellular phone company in Zambia. I
put up a Windows NT Server 4.0 network quite easily and
suggested to my manager that we needed Exchange Server
5.5 for our messaging. When I told him the cost, he simply
said, “Forget it. Subscribe with an ISP for an email address.”
A week later, members of the board of directors flew
in for a meeting. They wanted to use email. The managing
director met me in the corridor. “Ah, there’s my IT guy!
Where is email? They want to use email!” Happily, the
purchase of Exchange 5.5 was approved then and there;
the board would be meeting again in two weeks.
I had done the installation of Exchange Server before
and thought to myself, here’s another chance to show off
my skills, as I had done when putting up the network.
I sat at my desk, inserted my Microsoft Exchange CD,
and awaited autorun. I made my selections and started
installing. Suddenly, I encountered a problem. At the
time, I thought, “oh, one of those things.” Little did
I realize my nightmare was just beginning.
I looked at the already-installed software to check what
could have caused this abnormal abort. My experience told
me that I’d have to stop all anti-virus software for certain
installations to succeed. I therefore disabled Norton
AntiVirus and tried again. Same problem. Minutes turned
into hours, hours into days. The project had turned into
a horrible nightmare. I now had three days before the
next board meeting.
I knew my job was on the line. I had recommended an expensive
piece of software, and now I couldn’t install it, nor
could I figure out why. I had installed Exchange before—installing
was always easy! It was the configuration that usually
It was then that I decided to get on TechNet Online,
no matter the expense. I didn’t care how long I would
have to wait to download a page from this busy site. After
what seemed like a lifetime, bingo, the answer appeared
before my eyes: Do not disable your
anti-virus software. Uninstall it, install Exchange Server
5.5, then reinstall the anti-virus software.
I now had Sunday to work on the configuration and creation
of mailboxes. Monday arrived, and I was a hero. If they
Paul Y. Kalumba, MCSE, MCP+I, writes from Zambia, Central Africa.