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Exchange Configuration

Just pretty much got the exchange server 2010 up and running with the help of EE. Thanks to all...

I wanted some opinion/input on whether my intended plan seems sufficient.

Here it is-

Currently exchange 2010 is installed on a Dell poweredge server.
This server contains 3 drives....all in Raid 1 config.
C drive- contains OS- windows server 2008R2 (standard)  and Exchange 2010 Standard install
F drive- contains exchange 2010 database files only
G drive- contains exchange 2010 log files only

I run windows server backup everynight, and backup the database and logs to a seperate server for storage....then to an offsite storage later that night.

I have a second Dell server, that hosts a virtual server running Windows 2008R2 standard.

I am thinking about installing Exchange 2010 on that virtual server as a backup in case the main one fails. This way I could mount the database, and keep us running till the other one gets repaired/replaced.
In this scenario, all databases and logs would remain on the C drive of the virtual server.

Is this a good plan, or are there better ways of doing things for exchange availability. I don't have access to enterprise editions currently so DAG is out.

1 Solution

I think you can move and restore in another place your exchange database in th C: without problem (check backup sofware feature: 'restore data to another server')

In my opinion, you will have more issues with others roles configurations (you'll need to replicate CAS / HUB roles configuration on the standby machine, and it isn't very easy without using high availability options)
SteveIT ManagerCommented:
Symentec besr for backups
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
Thanks...but we are nonprofit, and don't have money budgeted for additional software currently.
I am looking for a fairly effective disaster recovery plan for Exchange 2010 on the current hardware/software I have.

any ideas anyone?

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Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
Hi Seasenor,

ok, first thing is, you said " I don't have access to enterprise editions currently so DAG is out.", are you talking about Exchange 2010 Enterprise Edition or windows 2008 enterprise edition? or both? Because DAG does not need enterprise edition on exchange, it just need's it on windows because it uses windows failover clustering.

The other question is: dont you have aditional hardware and putting the second exchange on a virtual machine on that virtual server is the only option? You can do it but you have to make sure the VM has the minimum requirements for exchange, such as 4GB of RAM, for example. To check the minimum requirements go to this site:
see the hardware section and pay special attencion to processor and RAM needs. If you can meet those needs than continue reading my post.
Lets take it by roles:

HUB Transport - Do you have only one site on AD sites and services? if so than i assume that both exchange servers will be on the same site and the only thing you have to do for high availability is to have the same config on the receive connectors that you have on the other one, and include him on the send connector. If they are on the same site Exchange automattivly uses one of them and if the other goes down no administrator interaction is needed. This is the "easy" role for your case.

CAS - Well here you also just have to configure the new CAS with the same configurations as the CAS already in production, but, assuming that you will not load balance both CAS and create a CAS Array (it's not easy when one of them is virtual), if main CAS fails you will need to do two things:
1- change the rpcclientaccessserver attribute on each mailboxdatabase from the old CAS to the new one, using get-mailboxdatabase |set-mailboxdatabase -rpcclientaccessserver "newcas" (something like this)
2- change the publishing rules or NAT rules (if you are using ISA/TMG or direct NAT on a firewall) for the CAS services published to the Internet (if you have them) to point to the new CAS

Mailbox - well this is were trouble starts. if you dont have DAG and if main servers fails then you will need to restore that database on the other server. it's complicated because it isnt only a restore operation, users will still have on AD the info that their mailbox is on the old server. So lets just wait for your response on the Windows 2008 enterprise possibility and if you really cant have it lets go deeper on the mailbox "high availability" latter.

hope it helps
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
Windows 2008R2 standard only.
I do however have a hardware box I can put the 2nd Ex server on and avoid a vm.
DAG won't be an option though.

I also have all incoming traffic NAT through a firewall and can easily edit that rule if needed during a crisis so no problem there.  
My main goal here is to be able to have a 2nd ex server ready to switch over to if the main one goes down so wanted advice/opinions for  
I also have access to Data Protection Manager if that is a recommendedation.
Every thing will be in one site, one domain, one subnet, no vlans. Pretty basic.
Approx 150 computers and as many mailboxes. Mostly Win7 clients with a few XP for now. All mail clients use Outlook 2007.
Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
Yes changing incoming mail NAT also has to be done.
To solve your Mailbox role problem you have to use database portability. basiclly besides recovering to mailbox database from backup, andd yes using DPM is a recommendation, you have to point your user to the new database. see how here:

my advice is, create one database with one user and test all the procedure.
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:

so my procedures would be as follows:

1. install/configure the 2nd exchange server. Having one database active on it with one user.
2. Use DPM (or windows backup) to restore EX server 1 database to EX server 2.
3. Mount database and set mailboxes target database withe the proper commands.

Is this correct?
Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
your procedure will be:

1. install second exchange server. Configure client access, hub transport and mailbox server as stated in previous posts, just to make it ready to receive the corrupted mailbox database.
2. create one mailbox database on server 1, move one user into that database.
3. backup that database with DPM
4. assume that the database is corrupt (dismount it and delete the files, for example) as restore it on server2.
5. do all procedures to mount the database in server 2 and run the commands to change user to point to server 2 database.

this procedure essentially tests the mailbox part of the disaster recovery but you can test the other roles too turning off server 1. just dont run the commands to change the database info of all users without testing it first for just the test user.
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
so.... if i don't use a VM would it be easier to go ahead and create a CAS array rather than worry about changing the rpc client access server after a failure?
Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
If you dont use a VM yes, it would be easier to create the CAS Array. and yes you also dont have to worry about changing the rpc client access server.
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
Thanks GreatVargas...

only a few more questions....
I haven't done much research on DAG. As mentioned I don't have enterprise editions of Windows.
If i can get access to enterprise version later, can I upgrade directly to it without reinstalling it and exchange?
Also, do both exchange servers have to be running Windows Enterprise versions or just one of the two?
Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
question 1: yes you can upgrade it.

Can you do this upgrade while exchange 2010 is installed on the server.I need to install the DAG ,and the documentation was very misleading
victor arrington
Today I tested the upgrade server edition from the standard to the Enterprise on the physical server IBM 3550.
Since the beginning has been installed server 2008 R2 standard without any updates, then installed Exchange 2010 SP1. After that I made the check for updates and got 67 updates, but among them the first service pack was not in the list! Installing all 67 updates is successful, then reboot, then another check for updates and here he was the first service pack.
Without installing the service pack I run:

DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerEnterprise /ProductKey:489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y

Check version, all at first glance good. I got Enterprise edition.
Now run the install service pack .... Reboot, one more ... everything goes according to plan ...
And here he is the moment of truth, when you log on watch box - service pack was successfully installed. Check the verson: 2008 R2 Enterprise SP1.
Some remarks on the upgrade:
1. I used the KMS client key. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff793421.aspx
2. tested only a single physical server.
3. I want to draw attention to the following update: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976902
4. Exchange working properly after all the above done.

5. All updates from Windows Updates

6. About DISM http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744380(WS.10).aspx

This is was test enviroment, 2 weeks later i want to do this on production server (have 32gb ram useble of 64 installed)


question 2: both servers need enterprise
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
I see...
well it's not likely I will get two upgrades in the next year... so I will just move forward with the CAS array and database portability.
I will upgrade one server at a time when budget allows, and ultimately get to a DAG environment.

One more question:
Why would DPM be preferred over Windows backup?
Antonio VargasMicrosoft Senior Cloud ConsultantCommented:
As far as i'm concerned DPM allows you to restore a single mailbox. Windows backup will backup the entire drives where databases are and will only allow full restores.
SeaSenorAuthor Commented:
Well done good sir.

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