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Setting up a local Exchange server

Posted on 2009-04-07
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We have one Exchange 2003 Enterprise Server SP2 in the main office.  Users in other locations will access their mailbox via a VPN connection.  The response times is quite slow for the VPN users.  I would like to be able to store their mailboxes locally in a local Exchange server.  Additionally, if the local server fails I would like for them to be able to use the main Exchange server as a backup.  Is this possible?
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Question by:mhbland
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Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
ID: 24087993

The first part is possible. You'd get a second Exchange Server and install it into the second office. You then move the mailboxes of users in the second office to their local Exchange Server. Their connection in Outlook would then be direct to their local server, and the Exchange server communicates back to the head office over the VPN connection.

Configuring resilience in that users in each office are 'backed up' on the other Exchange Server becomes much more difficult and would require some form of cluster. For smaller deployments, you'd be looking at a DoubleTake license to do such clustering. Alternatively, if you upgraded to Exchange 2007, you could gain some clustering using SCR (Standby Continuous Replication), although you don't get the automated failover with this approach.

For the majority of deployments, high up-time can still be achieved without spending out on an Exchange cluster. If Exchange is installed on suitable hardware with redundancy features (redundancy power supplies, correct RAID arrays and so on), you can achieve VERY high uptime without the added cost of installing and maintaining a cluster.

-Matt
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Expert Comment

by:abhaigh
ID: 24091919
you would need to use a third-party clustering solution in order to do what you want

I would look at WANSyncHA for Exchange, - yes, it's unfortunatly been bought by CA, but it does what it says on the tin and would provide you with the functionality you are after (no, I don't work for CA :)
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Author Comment

by:mhbland
ID: 24094611
Thanks for your advice.  I think you are right in that it is best to go for a second Exchange server with high fault tolerance rather than having to go for some sort of clustering.  Can you point me at some good documentation on setting up a second Exchange server for specific mailboxes.
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:abhaigh
ID: 24094898
It's easy

1.set up new exchange box as a member server of the existing org

2. use ADUC to move the mailboxes of the people you want hosted on that sever across to it

3.?????

4. PROFIT!

The only question is how long the mailbox move would take across your wan, but if you aren't moving that many mailboxes, and they aren't gigantically huge, it's not going to take all that long.
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Accepted Solution

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tigermatt earned 1000 total points
ID: 24094969

As the previous poster stated, the process is very easy. You'd need to install Server 2003 to a machine and join it to the domain, then install Exchange onto that machine.

Assuming you downgrade a new Exchange 2007 license to enable you to install Exchange 2003, you would then create a new routing group, drop the server into it, and create a Routing Group connector between the two groups.

You will need a second A record outside (something like mail2.company.com) and map it to the static IP in the second site. Users with mailboxes on the second server must connect directly to their Exchange Server to access OWA or RPC/HTTP; these requests will not be proxied through the current server. I'd suggest at the same time, you open port 25 at the second site and add mail2.company.com as an additional MX record - again, to give fault tolerance for inbound email.

There isn't much more configuration before you launch the Move Mailbox wizard and move the appropriate mailboxes to the new server. Users' Outlook configuration will update itself automatically the next time Outlook is launched.

It couldn't be simpler.

-Matt
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Author Closing Comment

by:mhbland
ID: 31567521
Thank you very much for pointing me in the right direction.  I will start testing all this on our test network.
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