How do you access Exchange server data?

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Like standards, the wonderful thing about Exchange APIs is that there’s so many to choose from. This page from Microsoft is designed to help you figure out which one you should use, and I count over 20 alternatives!

I need something that’s server based, not a client API, so that does help narrow down the selection a little. MAPI is a venerable interface, and still used by Outlook to communicate with the server, but unfortunately MS has dropped server-side support for it on Exchange 2007. It is possible to download an extension to enable it, but using a deprecated technology doesn’t feel like a long-term solution. CDOEx is another interface that’s been around for a while, and it’s designed for server code, but it too is deprecated.

Microsoft’s current recommendation is to switch all development to their new web service API. This looks intriguing, since it makes the physical location of the code that interfaces with the server irrelevant, but I’m wary that it will hit performance problems when accessing the large amounts of data that I typically work with. It seems mostly designed with clients in mind, and they typically have an incremental access pattern where they’re only touching small amounts of data at a time. Another issue is adoption of Exchange 2007. My anecdotal evidence is that many organizations are still running with older versions, and even Microsoft’s Small Business Server package still uses 2003. Since it’s likely that the old Exchange versions will be around for a while, that makes it tricky to rely on an interface that’s only supported in the very latest update.

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