Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Accessing Multiple Exchange Accounts for Multi-Company Executives

Have you got an executive that has more than one company to exec at? I do. What do you do to allow them access to multiple Exchange accounts from one computer? Pop3? You lose Calendar, etc. OWA? A little different interface with limitations. RWW? Got to have a pc at the office or a virtual machine at the office to login to. RDP? Same issue as previous.

Well, none of those are very elegant. All either require extra steps and/or give up some of Outlook's strengths. BAH! Need real Outlook that is local and quick. Something simpler that allows them access to their all their different companies' exchange accounts from the same computer/laptop even when not connected to the internet.

You see, Outlook will only support one exchange account at a time. "AT A TIME" is the magic phrase. With some extra thinking, I thought myself out of this box. Two solutions (gems produced by the overheating of my brain and pressure inside my head) have come to mind.
  • Outlook Profiles:
    Create a profile for each exchange account, setting them up as "Outlook Via HTTP". The executive would have to select which profile to access at a time, but not a time intensive or error prone problem.

  • Virtual Machines (Coolness!!)
    This is the techie "Cool" way to do it. It involves running Outlook in multiple virtual machines at the same time. I created a virtual machine on an XP Pro workstation, loaded XP Pro on the virtual machine, and then loaded Outlook into the virtual machine. The host XP Pro computer had Outlook that accessed one exchange account and the virtual machine had an Outlook that accessed a different exchange account. Sure its more complicated. Sure it requires more licenses. But it is COOL. ... And it does work. I can have both Outlooks open and see them get email AT THE SAME TIME! Did I mention it was COOL?

I am glad to "work around" my original problem of providing this for an executive. The practical way is the first one. It can be done without any additional software cost. The second is appropriate if the executive requires more than one PC attached to the domains of the different companies. Thankfully, that is not the case with my executive.