Shared & Editable contacts using Outlook 2007 WITHOUT Exchange?
July 21, 2010 9:04 AM   Subscribe

We are currently on Exchange & Outlook 2000. We have somewhere in the realm of 2000 contacts stored in a shared "Rolodex", that can be accessed by anyone via Outlook. We're currently looking to move to Outlook 2007 (from the Office Professional suite) WITHOUT Exchange and are furiously trying to figure a similar solution. Please read on for more details…

It should be noted that we'll be using Google Apps Sync for our primary mail & calendars, which on our three test stations is working fine. However, I can't make shared contacts work, and even Google tells you that you can't manage contacts through their shared contacts solution, so that's a non-starter.

We just want simple, shared, editable by all contacts to be accessed via Outlook 2007 without resorting to Exchange. Please feel free to ask if I've left anything out or if you need more clarification.

posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
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posted by randomstriker at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2010

I should probably mention that I'm willing to run an LDAP server if it would solve this issue (assuming one could be had for free, which I THINK is the case). I just don't know much about it, and I don't know if Outlook 2007 can edit LDAP entries.
posted by TrueVox at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2010

Hmm... that's a good suggestion, Randomstriker. Would it be correct to say that many of them rely on LDAP to share contacts (at least, that's what it looks like to me, but I haven't delved into all of them yet). Can Outlook 2007 Edit LDAP entries?

I'm really sorry to everyone if this seems a foolish question, by the way. I am kind of new to these duties.
posted by TrueVox at 9:50 AM on July 21, 2010

Why ditch Exchange? It's great for just this sort of thing. It handles all the very complex issues without a lot of fuss.
posted by wkearney99 at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2010

Great question. Outlook 2007 does not support our version of Exchange (which upon inspection is 5.5).
posted by TrueVox at 10:08 AM on July 21, 2010

I'm well versed in Outlook 2k7, but I'm not that familiar with using it without Exchange. I do know that in the default configuration with exchange, it relies on downloading an offline address book once/day via http. If you can get information on the format of the offline address book, you may be able to come up with a custom solution to your problem ... if you can also tell Outlook to download said address book without an Exchange server to tell it where to get it from.

In the case of non-cached mode, Outlook will get it's contacts directly from Exchange and Exchange will get/store it's contact information via Active Directory. It would be hard to imagine a workable solution without Exchange in that case.

By far the simplest solution is to simply upgrade to Exchange 2k, Exchange 2k3, or Exchange 2k7 after researching which upgrade paths are most compatible. I think you can upgrade to Exchange 2k3 directly from 5.5, but I don't think you can jump to Exchange 2k7, if I recall correctly.

The only other option you have is to look for an open-source or secondary product that claims to be Exchange compatible. Some such solutions do exist, but I haven't researched them.

Finally, could you use something other than Outlook? Sorry to say it, but Outlook is very much a solution that's tied to Exchange. Breaking that relationship isn't easy.
posted by signal7 at 10:32 AM on July 21, 2010

Outlook 2007, so far as I can tell, supports querying an LDAP address list, but not editing. I don't know of a solution, other than Exchange, that allows two-way sharing like that.

Just by way of comparison, you might try the Exchange 2010 trial download, especially if you already have several copies of Outlook 2007.

On preview: You can migrate directly from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003, but no further. Beyond that, it is possible to go from 2003 to 2007 and 2010. Going from 5.5 to 2003 will be the most difficult step, since that involves getting the Exchange directory into Windows' Active Directory. Further upgrades are relatively painless.
posted by fireoyster at 10:37 AM on July 21, 2010

I've used communigate pro as an exchange replacement, and it's pretty slick.
posted by anti social order at 11:17 AM on July 21, 2010

Signal7, no we can't. Our people are too tied to the concept (sadly) - I've already pitched a few other options at them.

Drat, that is depressing, Fireoyster, abut the not editing of LDAP. What pain!

Does anyone know of any shared contacts solutions for Gmail that would sync with Outlook like this?
posted by TrueVox at 11:22 AM on July 21, 2010

You can try google apps.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:05 PM on July 21, 2010

ps with gmail you have to buy google apps premere to sync contacts between everybody .
posted by majortom1981 at 12:06 PM on July 21, 2010

Google Apps Premiere doesn't sync anything beyond name and primary e-mail address. Contact info isn't included, per the help document.
posted by fireoyster at 12:17 PM on July 21, 2010

I would strongly recommend upgrading Exchange along with Outlook; they're basically made to work together and do exactly what you want. We've had some minor issues with upgrading from 2007 to 2010, but they've mostly had to do with the migration process temporarily locking people out of their accounts and so on. Once we got everything up and running, it works as smoothly as ever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2010

There are plenty of third-party tools for handling shared contacts in Google Apps Premier and Education editions.

Google Apps Premiere doesn't sync anything beyond name and primary e-mail address.

This isn't true, using the shared contacts API.

I would strongly recommend upgrading Exchange along with Outlook

Upgrading from 5.5 to 2007 directly isn't really possible, last time I looked. You had to go from 5.5 to 2000/2003 to 2007. Not fun.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:35 PM on July 21, 2010

Yeah, ugprading through several versions has been a hassle in the past. But these days you can do quite a lot with a Hyper-V or other virtual server product and eval copies of the software. Or get a technet eval subscription (~$300) that comes with everything, including exchange. I just handled upgrading a couple of ancient w2k domains and exchange up to the very latest versions. Used a couple of virtual machines inside a quad core desktop machine (wasn't even a 'server'). Worked quite well. Brought up a pair of virtual w2k domain controllers, then upgraded them to 2003, demoted the old 'real' machines then upgraded them to 2008, and promoted them back into the domain and took down the virtual ones Everything stayed running quite smoothly. Much the same process with Exchange.

One word of advice with virtual machines: snapshots. Take snapshots of the machine before doing any upgrades or service pack installs. Saves you a lot of hassle in case something goes wrong.
posted by wkearney99 at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2010

Oh, and 5.5 exchange? Upgrade already. Even 2003 had huge improvements over 5.5.
posted by wkearney99 at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2010

Just to let everyone know (and anyone else out there who has this question): We found something. An ugly little program called Sync2. Thanks for all the help, as usual! :)
posted by TrueVox at 11:34 AM on August 9, 2010

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