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Active Directory & Exchange 2003 - Optimal Configuration

Posted on 2006-07-08
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We have 3 offices in 3 different cities connected by a 10MB fibre link.

City A is the head office with 100 employees.
City B has about 30 employees.
City C has about 20 employess.

Currently, we have each office logging in to their own Server 2003 domain but all connecting/sharing a central Exchange 2003 server which is located in the head office.

My question are:  
1.  Is this an optimal AD configuration or should we have everyone logging on to one central domain?

2.  How do we add some redundancy to our Exchange Server 2003?  That is, having everyone from different cities share one central mail server makes me a little nervous.

Thanks very much.
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Question by:c_salvador
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mass2612 earned 250 total points
ID: 17066707
Hi,

IMO for this numer of users unless you have a specific reason I would tend to go with a single domain model with 3 AD sites each with a dedicated DC. This would allow the local users to be authenticated via a local DC and also provide redundancy should any of your DC's fail. In your current situation you should have at least two domain controllers for each domain which means you need more hardware. But this is a fairly complicated change that I would not recommend lightly and will require some planning.

Regarding the Exchange redundancy. Is this Exchange 2003 Enterprise? If so to provide redundancy you might want to consder using multiple storage groups and maibox stores spread accross multiple RAID 5 disk systems or clustering if you are concerned about complete server failure.

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/Library/be51dcd4-24d9-403c-915b-10a107c7960c1033.mspx?mfr=true
http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Implementing-Two-Node-Cluster-Windows-2003-Enterprise.html

Again this is a big topic with benefits and disadvantages. For example you need to weigh up the costs in providing redundancy with the costs in lost productivity/sales, etc if/when the server fails.

You might for example choose to add redundancy by adding an external SCSI disk array to the current server. Then add multiple storage groups and maibox stores. For example in the ext disk array you could create 3 individual RAID 5 arrays to hold each mailbox store. Then in the event of multiple disk failures the chances are only one store may be affected. I would normally recommend a multiple store environment where users are stored across the seperate stores randomly but in an even number. i.e. if you have all the managers on one store and that store is down then all the managers are affected at once. The same rings true to situations where all users from a particular dept or office are stored on the same store. If that store is un-available then all users from that dept or office are off-line leading to increased impact to the business. There are reasons for storing entire groups of users such as journalling etc but that sanother topic.

As I said these are big topics but hopefully some of this helps.
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