Planning a Syncronized Failover 2003 Svr
Posted on 2004-10-05
We're in the planning/testing process of migrating from NT4/Exch5.5 to SBS 2003 (Win 2003, Exch 2003). We're a small non-profit, and have under 15 users doing email and file/print on one server. Our 5.5 db's total 1.8GB in size, and there's not any unusually large volume of email. In the wake of Florida's 'Fantastic Four' Hurricanes, I've been given a small budget to develop some form of 'warm stand-by' environment that could be up within a few hours that would have a fairly recent version of the production environment. We'll be locating this server at a partner's office (hopefully) out of state. I'm not worried so much about the file and print, but more about the exchange side of things.
With that aside, I'm soliciting input on the best way to keep this warm stand-by DR machine synchronized with data no more than a day old. I sincerely would like to avoid any 3rd-party software purchases, but if one could give us on-line failover, and robust fail-back, for less than USD$250, I'm all ears. I've looked at some briefly, but found them to be 800 on up. Here's what I have so far:
Two Small Business Server 2003 DC's, connected via a 256k VPN
Both using DFS for file synchronization
To initiate a failover: The public DNS/MX records transfer, the clients VPN to the DR server, the clients change their outlook settings to point to the other server.
To initiate a failback: Reverse of above, FULL NTBackup *FROM* DR *TO* Master environment, OR possibly using Recovery Storage Groups to get new messages merged back into the master store, along with a datestamp-filtered xcopy to get changed files back.
These are the possible ways I've heard of to do this:
1) Elaborate WAN-SAN Configuration, with Enterprise Clustered configuration ($$$$$, not an option)
2) 3rd-party Tools ($$$, prefer to avoid)
3) FULL Daily NTBackup to disk, which is replicated across the VPN, and restored
4) Full & Daily Incremental NTBackup, similar to above
5) Periodic Full NTBackup, together with Replication of Logs (similar to SQL log shipping)
6) Some on-line replication native to Exchange. I hear this doesn't exist
Well, am I delusional, was this good only for a laugh? Or is this possible? I'm leaning towards 4 or 5, hoping for 6, am keeping 2 in my back pocket. I'm offering 500 points not because it's urgent, or extremely diffcult to someone who would know, but because I'd appreciate some thought-out ramifications of any proposed solutions. Be pragmatic, and offer your experience using the techniques. Thanks much.