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Email Redundancy (Currently Running Exchange 2010)

Posted on 2012-08-29
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Last Modified: 2012-08-31
Hello all,

We have a client that has experienced unexpected email downtime twice in the past year. This is a big issue for them (basically the same for any company out there). They've asked us to set up a sort of redundancy system to prevent this from ever happening again.

Currently they are running Exchange 2010 on a single server (recently virtualized and upgraded from Exchange 2003). The first failure they encountered was because of a mailbox store corruption. The most recent however was a massive DNS/AD/Replication issue (EMC/EMS would not connect at all and prevented mail completely). We've since cleaned things up and restored functionality.

We do have a POP email server that we use to host email for a few of our much smaller clients, and are considering setting up all of their users in this system as a backup, however our biggest concern is it only gives them the ability to send/receive email (they obviously would not be able to access calendars, public folders, etc).

The question I'm posing is, is there any way to set up a redundant Exchange 2010 server that can act as a stand alone system regardless of the health of their entire domain (ie: an exchange server that doesn't have to be a part of the actual domain).

Is this something that is possible? I'm open to any suggestions you may have for alternate/similar redundancy options.
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Question by:Timothy McCartney
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by:Gary Dewrell
Gary Dewrell earned 500 total points
ID: 38347828
I am currently looking into the the same functionality. We are looking at using a cloud service. Take a look at mimecast. Your entire mail server could be down and the clients would just start using the cloud service automatically. All mail would continue to flow. And the price is right.
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mmicha earned 500 total points
ID: 38347856
Exchange requires Active Directory.  You may want to look into the DAG feature of Exchange...  

As far as a way to keep the Internet up...  You could look into BGP multihoming, we use it at my office and very slick with the ISP goes down.

Also, some of the cloud based spam filters will catch all the mail if the server does go down to avoid NDR's and such.  Hold things for a few days.

I worked for a short while at a Microsoft Datacenter on Office 365/Exchange Deployments.  I'm not saying it is the answer to all problems, but stuff is very redundant.  Now that email so critical I see the cloud as a positive place for it.  Obviously, monthly recurring costs, security concerns, and loss of flexibility however.

I'm not an expert, but that would be some of my insight.
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by:Timothy McCartney
ID: 38347858
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll definitely take a look at that option.
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by:Exchange_Geek
Exchange_Geek earned 500 total points
ID: 38347953
First and foremost, Exchange needs Active Directory just as you're house needs pillars to support it. Pretty simple, AD gets messed up and Exchange gets messed up.

Now, there are three options you've got
1) Work with Database Availability Group (Exchange 2010 Native In-built Clustering Concept) - this would provide you resilience of having Exchange available on acitve/passive clusters
2) Work with Resource Forest Concept + DAG (where-in Exchange would be residing in 1 forest and users on another, this ways if AD gets affected on one forest - the other is safe with Exchange on it. PLUS DAG would ensure Exchange never goes down)
3) Lastly, scrap the ideas mentioned above and move to Cloud (Google, Azure, Microsoft etc). No headache of AD or Exchange ONLY headache would be of cost/per mailbox.

That's all that you can get.

Regards,
Exchange_Geek
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Expert Comment

by:Exchange_Geek
ID: 38347954
First and foremost, Exchange needs Active Directory just as you're house needs pillars to support it. Pretty simple, AD gets messed up and Exchange gets messed up.

Now, there are three options you've got
1) Work with Database Availability Group (Exchange 2010 Native In-built Clustering Concept) - this would provide you resilience of having Exchange available on acitve/passive clusters
2) Work with Resource Forest Concept + DAG (where-in Exchange would be residing in 1 forest and users on another, this ways if AD gets affected on one forest - the other is safe with Exchange on it. PLUS DAG would ensure Exchange never goes down)
3) Lastly, scrap the ideas mentioned above and move to Cloud (Google, Azure, Microsoft etc). No headache of AD or Exchange ONLY headache would be of cost/per mailbox.

That's all that you can get.

Regards,
Exchange_Geek
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by:page1985
page1985 earned 500 total points
ID: 38348020
Can you provide some additional detail into the root cause of your AD issue?  Depending what happened, a combination of DAG and resource forest from Exchange_Geek's post is probably the best you can do for on-site resilience.  Many very large corporations (Microsoft, the US Department of Defense, the IRS, etc.) use a combined strategy of DAG + Resource Forest to increase security and reliability.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Timothy McCartney
ID: 38354058
Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

To follow up on the last response: the AD issue was being cause by a very messy DNS setup. all of the customer's terminal servers were pointing to two DNS servers (2008) and I don't think they were completely set up properly and/or tested. They were a recent addition to their equation. We got everything back up and running by pointing the primary/secondary DNS back to a couple of the 2003 servers and running dcdiag/netdiag.

As for our decision, we currently use Mail Enable for a handful of other clients for a pop mail setup. We are going to install it on one of this client's servers as a backup for a more immediate solution. I will be thoroughly educating myself on DAG though as it looks like it would ultimately be the best solution.

Thanks again!
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