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Configure DNS wth SBS CNAME MX A Records

Posted on 2006-07-05
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
Hi there,

This is a general question, I would like some advice on if possible. I have been tasked with setting up a network for a small business which will initially have 6 users, and which could grow over the next few years to 15 or so.

I have recommended they use SBS. They will be connecting 3 macs, 1 PC desktop and 1 laptop to it initially - most likely only PCs being added after that. I have only just ordered the server and workstations, and am reading extensively about configuring everything before I get it. However, I have a few questions I can't find anything specific yet on the below so any help is welcome :

 I have registered a domain name mycompany.com, which nameservers currently point to a different shared hosting Unix server with cpanel and WHM.

1. Their website will be a php based one, and thus I would prefer to keep it hosted it there, but yet have email going through the exchange server. Is this possible?

2. What settings do I need to change in WHM? - I'm guesing I need to change the MX records to the static IP I will be assigned once I have the server up and running - is this correct?

3. What about the A records or CNAME in CPANEL - are any other changes required there?

4. Once I get the server configured, if the server goes down, is it possible for incoming mail to be queued on the Unix server with the existing email accounts I have there - and when the exchange server comes back up, for it to pull the email from that server?

5. Will I need to do anything else when running through the Configure Email and Internet Connection Wizard during initial setup of the SBS server to achieve the above?

6. What backup solution would you recommend for the SBS server?

Many thanks in advance.....
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Question by:brianilland
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Expert Comment

by:Zadkin
ID: 17049215
1 Yes I think an external site is better,  local hosting is only needed when large amounts of dynamic company data is used

2 Your static adress of the mail server is assigned to a A record,  and that host to the MX records.

3 Maybe an A record to the server static IP  server.mydomain.com to allow RWW, OWA, ...

4 Yes you can set a second MX record with a lower priority (higher number) to an external buffering service.

5 Decide on RWW, OWA, ... for example

6 the SBS backup is OK,  some use it with a set of USB drives
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 17050184
Hi brianilland,

I have my own company and all of my clients set up in exactly this manner.  You just need to add TWO records to the DNS Zone File in WHM, a HOST A record and an MX record (this is because you can't point an MX record to an IP address).  The host record will also become the FQDN for your server that you can use for Remote Web Workplace or VPN.

To see how this lays out visually... take a look at http://www.robtex.com/host/techsoeasy.com.html, and also http://www.robtex.com/host/sbs.techsoeasy.com.html
(those may be a bit confusing -- but I think it's a cool site anyhow!)

When you configure the MX record set it's priority value to 10, and change the default MX record for the site which is already there to a priority value of 60.  Maintain a single default mailbox in CPanel (a catchall), and then when you run the Configure Email and Internet Connection Wizard (CEICW) to set up your server you can use both Exchange AND the POP3 Connector.  Configure the POP3 connector to run about every 4 hours or so--- this will create a nice MX backup for you.

If the Exchange server were to ever go down, messages would then go to the Unix server... but you don't have to do anything else to make this happen... if NO server were available the message would just stay on the SENDING server for 48 to 72 hours depending on it's configuration before it actually bounced.

You can see how this email configuration works by looking at my DNSReport:  http://www.dnsreport.com/tools/mail.ch?domain=techsoeasy.com  

For backup... I suggest using a set of 3 USB hard drives that can be rotated off-site.  See http://sbsurl.com/backup for the overview of the built-in utility which generally works just fine.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Author Comment

by:brianilland
ID: 17098935
Thanks Jeff, sounds like thats what I'll do.

Just to clarify.... ---

At the minute I have the domain set up ok only - not the SBS. In WHM, there is an A record for mycompany.com which points to the Unix server IP and also an MX record which points to mycompany.com. Are you saying that all I need to do is to create a new additional 'A' record (to point to a new sub-domain sbs.mycompany.com for example, which will point to the ip of my sbs server) and then an additional 'MX' record which points to sbs.mycompany.com?

Will I need to reference the subdomain sbs.mycompany.com when I am setting up the SBS server?

For backups, how do you recommend rotating them. I was thinking of having one drive for monthly USB backups, 1 weekly and 1 daily. Thoughts?

Sorry this is all theoretical at the minute, I want to have a grasp of things before I get my hands dirty....

Thanks,
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Author Comment

by:brianilland
ID: 17098988
One other thing - for firewall settings - I plan on only getting the standard edition SBS so without ISA. Will Windows Firewall suffice on the above setup. I only wish to enable OWA for external access for now.... Does it leave a lot of unnecessary ports open by default?

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Accepted Solution

by:
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 350 total points
ID: 17103404
You'll add two dns records

Domain                                  TTL      Record Type  
sbs                                      14400         A                 123.456.789.0
mycompany.com                   14400        MX              10   sbs.mycompany.com


Then, if you want to have the CPanel server be your backup MX server, change the current MX record's priority value to 60.

When setting up your server, you will use sbs.mycompany.com as the FQDN for your security certificate when running the Configure Email and Internet Connection Wizard.

Regarding backups, please see my comments here:  http:Q_21917379.html

Regarding firewall.  You do NOT use the windows firewall on an  SBS under any circumstances.  Without ISA, you should do two things.  Make sure you have a hardware firewall (such as a Linksys or D-link router at a minimum) and also use a two NIC configuration so that you can enable RRAS as a firewall within Windows.  http://sbsurl.com/twonics

Finally on the theoretical:  It's said that it takes at least three installations of SBS before you get it right... so don't expect to install SBS for production purposes your first couple of times... practice with it, reformat and practice again.

Two good books to have at your side:  http://sbsurl.com/best http://sbsurl.com/unleashed

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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