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Exchange server 2003 Rebuild

Posted on 2004-10-15
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Last Modified: 2010-07-27
alright, sit back while i explan the situation.

We are running into issues with our exchange configuration. We are configured for a Front-end and Back-end environment. We have done extensive research, basically everything short of opening a ticket with Microsoft.  

While reviewing the system configurition inisde exchange System Manager, i noticed that where the path to the log file is, an error message appeared:  

The RPC Server is unavailable
Facility: Win32
IDNO: 800706ba
Exchange System Manager.

Why this error message appeared here is beyond me, but it would appear ONLY when i used the System Manager to View the REMOTE Exchange server, i.e on the back-end server while viewing the front end configuration.

This message was always coupled with a system error in the event viewer:

Event Type:      Error
Event Source:      DCOM
Event Category:      None
Event ID:      10009
Date:            10/11/2004
Time:            11:42:09 AM
User:            web\administrator
Computer:                      owaweb
Description: DCOM was unable to communicate with the computer webmail1.plex.com using any of the configured protocols.

I originally thought that it might have something to do with the fact that the Message store was shut down on the front-end, but testing confirmed that it was not the case.

Also, everything works fine for Outlook and OWA, but when we attempt to start making IMAP or POP3 connections, things begin to break down. both the IMAP and POP3 services were running on the front end server, and I was able to telnet to them via the proper port number, but always received and error after submitting a KNOWN good password:

There was a problem logging onto your mail server. Your Password was rejected. Account: 'owa.web.com', Server: 'owa.web.com', Protocol: POP3, Server Response: '-ERR Logon failure: unknown user name or bad password.', Port: 995, Secure(SSL): Yes, Server Error: 0x800CCC90, Error Number: 0x800CCC92

this would happen regardless of SSL being enabled or not.  I think that i am running into some type of communication problem between the front-end and back-end, but cannot figure out how to test/confirm/fix it.  The others that i have spoke with suggest that i rebuild my exchange environment.  This is in a production enviroment, so i approach this option with some trepidation.

I hope to get a workable answer to this problem, but if not, would accept the best method for eradicating any trace of the exchange environment from AD, and a process for bringing my data back on line.  I assume that i will have to retain the same server names and such, but exact steps would be nice.
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Question by:athelu
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marc_nivens earned 250 total points
ID: 12336015
The RPC/DCOM errors are most likely DNS related.  Ensure that webmail1.plex.com has an entry in DNS, if it does not then add it.  If webmail1.plex.com is not supposed to be the FQDN of the server, you can fix that by editing the ncacn_ip_tcp value found on the networkAddress propery of the server object (using ADSIEdit or LDP).  

This may or may not be the cause of the POP3/IMAP4 issues.  If you fix the above error and still get POP3/IMAP4 errors, here are a few things to check:

- Make sure POP3 and IMAP4 are started (services and virtual servers) on the Back End (I know its simple but you gotta check it)
- Try logging on directly to the back end with POP3/IMAP4 to test/rule out the front end as a problem
- Check the event log on both FE and BE during the failed logon for any additional events that may be helpful
- See if an administrator can logon, or if this is affecting all users
- DNS could be causing this as well.  Verify the FE can ping the BE by FQDN

If its still not working, get back to us with the results from the above tests.  There is no need to go through an entire rebuild of your Exchange environment for this, this should be fixable.  
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by:athelu
ID: 12337447
Thank you for your response. I will investigate this right away. However, i have a question about the POP3 and IMAP4 services on the Back-End.

I thought that in a Front-end/Back-end environment that the "offered" services were only presented on the Front-end services, and that the front-end would then use RPC to the back-end to provide the requested information. If this is true, do i really need the IMAP4 and POP3 services on the back-end, because at that point the connection is no longer IMAP or POP as far as the Back-end can tell?
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by:marc_nivens
ID: 12337603
I'll clear this up for you.  The front end still sends the request to the back end using the protocol specified (HTTP, IMAP4, or POP3).  The only difference is that it changes the request to include the fact that its a front end proxy request.  In other words, if you want POP3 to work you will have to enable it on both the FE and BE servers.

You're probably thinking of RPC/HTTP.  In this scenario, the RPC proxy DOES send all traffic as RPC between it and the RPC proxy.  Front End servers use the same protocol as requested by the client to access the back end.
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