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How to set Exchange 2010/2013 to use the same URL in two physical locations

Posted on 2013-11-14
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Last Modified: 2013-11-23
My company is currently in the middle of updating our Exchange from 2003 to 2013.  Since there's no direct path, we're going through Exchange 2010 first.  Currently, we have servers at our head office, as well as 2 other remote locations, all using different URLs for OWA/Outlook.

Our plan is to consolidate the remote locations to an Exchange environment at our datacenter, and leave an Exchange server at our head office for those users (can't move them to the datacenter because we have crappy internet).

We'd like to stop using separate URLs for each server, and simply have one URL that users at both the datacenter and our head office can use, which will route them properly to the location that their mailbox is hosted. What would the ideal solution to accomplish this be?
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Question by:vlsupport
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by:piattnd
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That depends a lot on your requirements.  If you need "intelligent" DNS routing, perhaps maybe all US accounts get pointed to ServerA where all Europe accounts get pointed to ServerB, unless ServerB is down, then you'll need a more robust solution.  This cannot be done with traditional DNS solutions, because they're not intelligent, meaning no checks are performed before it serves up a name.  

If you put in 2 names with the same preference, you cannot control which DNS entry will be fed back to requesters.  I had tried using "Zen Load Balancer" (http://www.zenloadbalancer.com/) previously, which is free, but the scripting language for the intelligence behind the scenes is not very well documented.  You might be able to pay for their assistance in setting it up.

You could also check OpenDNS to see if they offer some sort of solution like this for business customers (http://www.opendns.com/business-solutions/premium-dns/benefits/).

Alternatively, there are a ton of network load balancers out there that are not free, and are likely easier to setup, but they can get pretty expensive real fast.  An example of such product is the Global Load Balancing from F5 (http://www.f5.com/it-management/solutions/global-load-balancing/overview/).

It may seem overkill at first, but without an intelligent DNS solution, you could be sending your clients to a server that's down or a server that's not nearest them, impacting their experience (which you may or may not care about).
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by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
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The poor internet connection would tend to rule out using proxying. What I would do is have a single URL for everything (which is announced to the users) but then use redirection to send them to the server which is closest to their mailbox.

For example, you advertise owa.example.com as the central URL to use, point Autodiscover to that server etc.
However each site has owa.xx.example.com (where xx is a variable for each site).
Exchange will sort out where the traffic goes and as you move users around the central URL continues to work correctly.

No need to use anything third party for this - it can all be done natively.

Simon.
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by:piattnd
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Can you elaborate on that, Simon, because from my experience, that's incorrect.  What you're talking about is having a single entry point in the network, rather than keeping to the 2 entry points, as explained in the question.
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by:piattnd
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Ahh, nevermind I think I got it!  It's apparently a new feature of CAS in 2013 (http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2013/01/25/exchange-2013-client-access-server-role.aspx).
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by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
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I don't think it is new for Exchange 2013.
Basically you configure an external URL on servers in both sites. Users hit the server on site 1, Exchange says that the URL for site 2 is better for them so they are silently redirected. It was definitely possible in Exchange 2010.

Simon.
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by:piattnd
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According to that link, the functionality was significantly changed in 2013, but I am familiar with the external/internal URL for OWA/EAS that you can configure in 2010.  I guess I never realized it was a true URL redirection rather than a proxy request (as previous exchange versions did).
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vlsupport earned 0 total points
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Thanks all, we've run netflow for a while and discovered that Exchange isn't using as much bandwidth as we thought, so we're just going to run all of our Exchange servers at our datacenter.  Thanks for the info though.
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by:vlsupport
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Original scope of the project changed based on new info.
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