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Exchange Email High Availability

Posted on 2010-11-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I work for a small business with a small budget. We are still running SBS 2003 in house.

The nature of our business requires high availability for our email applications. A free way that we've helped accomplish this is to use Google Apps to host our domains MX records. We then use a POP connector to download the emails and deliver them to exchange.

We do this because we only have one server running SBS 2003 and if that server goes down, we don't want email to bounce. We also only have a cable internet connection (much cheaper and faster than a T1) but that isn't always reliable. We also host our blackberry server internally, need activesync access, OWA access, OutlookAnywhere access and also require that all email is archived (regulatory reasons - we use GFI MailArchiver for this).

The POP connector has proved to be flaky at best. I've tried various programs and there's always something that doesn't work the way we want.

I need to look at options for higher availability of Exchange. I've considered looking at hosted exchange, but I can't give up all the freedom we have (blackberry server connections, archiving, full management of exchange etc). Are there any other options I should consider?
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Question by:DVation191
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23 Comments
 
LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:Gladys Kerns
ID: 34122864
Not too dissimilar situation - We use Postini for our incoming mail... it filters for spam and viruses and then it's configured to SMTP relay our mail to our server if our server is online.  If our server is not online then it will spool our messages and try again every 5 minutes or so.  It does cost a little money, but it works perfectly.  If you want you can use it for an outbound host as well.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:ob1_
ID: 34122897
You don't have to give up blackberry access for hosted exchange but you would probably setup your PDA's on the hosts server rather than your own BES.

some reputable hosting options:

http://www.mailstreet.com/
http://www.microsoft.com/online/exchange-hosted-services.aspx

If you want to run your own exchange server you need T1 or fractional T at least for stable internet connectivity. You can keep your cable connection and get an internet firewall that supports dual WAN's (then setup rules to route web traffic over cable modem for speed and email traffic over t1 for stability)

there are a lot of different vendors that sell this type of bandwidth so I won't bother to list. there is no cheap way to host your own Exchange server, especially if you demand high availability. Hosted solutions may be better for you depending on your size.. chances are they will support your archiving requirements.

I have used the Google Apps connector for Outlook and it is flaky. I didn't know they had one for Exchange but it may have similar issues or it may just be your bandwidth. Cable modems are generally fast but as you know the speed is variable.





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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:Gladys Kerns
ID: 34122901
Also - I just migrated from a single SBS2003 box to a Hyper-V HA Failover Cluster (two new servers and a decent iSCSI box)... so my new Exchange 2010 server sits as it's own VM without any interference and it's clustered at the HOST level meaning the server itself is completely unaware of the clustering service but the entire VM will failover given hardware issues, etc...
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LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34123178
Is Postini  the same as Google Apps Premiere or is this a different service? Does Google have any documentation on how to set this SMTP relay/gateway up with Exchange?
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:Gladys Kerns
Gladys Kerns earned 100 total points
ID: 34123267
Postini is a different service than Google Apps Premiere - as far as I know anyway... they DO have pretty good documentation on how to setup the various kinds of SMTP relays and gateways in Exchange.  There  are a LOT of people with Exchange using Postini in this way.  I love it because it takes all that spam traffic completely off my pipe and my network but I get to maintain control of the server itself, etc...
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LVL 8

Assisted Solution

by:rr1968
rr1968 earned 50 total points
ID: 34123962
otter77 is absolutely right.
Postini will hold your MX record (similar to google apps) and forwards all your emails to your exchange server using TLS or simply SMTP (This is done after scrubbibg for spam and virus)
If your server goes down, then they use a technology called spooling (default is 2GB) to store your emails. As soon as your email server is back up and ready to receive emails, all the spooled messages will be forwarded to your server (zero data loss)

You can also send outbound emails through postini, this way you can make sure that your clients are not sending infected emails to the outside world.

You can also setup some filtering rules to monitor your outbound emails.

You can also get Postini to archive all your emails using journaling (so you don't really need GFI MailArchiver)
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LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:Sun12345
Sun12345 earned 50 total points
ID: 34124885
Check out Red Condor as well and see if one of the small applaince fits to your budget. They have a hosted mail filtering /SMTP gateway service which you could either use alone  or in conjuction with thier applaince. They should be able to hold your mails when your connection or server is down
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:ob1_
ID: 34127647
Also look at MX Logic. Regardless of what product you go with (hosted or not) you can setup MX Logic as your spam filter / DR solution. For several dollars per user per month you route your mail through this spam filter and if they detect that your mail server has gone down they will start pooling your mail until it comes back up. I have used it for years.

http://www.mxlogic.com
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LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34196543
After considering all options, I believe we will try the Postini option. I still haven't seen any documentation on how to set it up as an SMTP relay with Exchange though - all I can find is information that is for a full migration.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:ob1_
ID: 34827583
I say split evenly between otter, myself, sun, and rr since it sounds like he considered all of our suggestions while making his decision.
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LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34831295
I'd love to award points, but I can't say if Postini is actually the best answer without knowing if it's possible to set it up that way. I haven't been able to find any documentation on how to set this up.

If I can't find any documentation on using Postini in this way, I don't know if it's even a possible solution!
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 34831322
When you say "I still haven't seen any documentation on how to set it up as an SMTP relay with Exchange though" - are you planning on using Postini to receive your mail, filter the junk and then pass on the good stuff to yourself?

Alan
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:ob1_
ID: 34831359
0
 
LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34831482
"When you say "I still haven't seen any documentation on how to set it up as an SMTP relay with Exchange though" - are you planning on using Postini to receive your mail, filter the junk and then pass on the good stuff to yourself?" - Yes!
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LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34831500
Thanks for the links ob1_, but I didn't see anything in the ' Configure Postini' section that was related to how Postini mail would get forwarded to my Exchange server. Would you mind providing further clarification?
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:ob1_
ID: 34831642
looks like you need to configure an SMTP connector in Exchange System Manager to use Postini as a smarthost: http://www.google.com/support/appsecurity/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=139138

you might try searching Postini Help for "SMTP connector"


 - ob1
0
 
LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 34831711
Okay - if that is what you are planning on doing with Postini - that is exactly what it does and it will be fine for your purposes.
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LVL 6

Accepted Solution

by:
ob1_ earned 300 total points
ID: 34831934
Here is some more info on configuring an Exchcange smart host and SMTP connector for Positini: http://www.postini.com/webdocs/outbound/en/outbound_config_en.pdf

check out pages 47 - 54
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LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34832160
Awesome documentation. Thanks guys.

Am I wrong in thinking that this is just the outbound configuration, though? Setting up exchange as a smarthost will allow me to send our mail out through the postini servers, right? But how do I configure Postini to forward mail to Exchange? Or did I miss that in the instructions you posted?
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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:ob1_
ob1_ earned 300 total points
ID: 34842793
0
 
LVL 20

Author Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34843440
You guys are awesome. I really appreciate your patience and persistence.
0
 
LVL 20

Author Closing Comment

by:DVation191
ID: 34843477
Thank you to all who contributed and especially those who provided the Postini documentation.
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