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Exchange 2010 infrastructure expansion

Hi everyone,

I've been tasked with expanding the Exchange 2010 environment for a client and was hoping for some advice. They currently run a single physical Exchange 2010 server with all the roles and have a BES Express server too. They also use Outlook Anywhere.

I've just set up an ESXi cluster and have access to a NetApp SAN. They would like me to expand the infrastructure so that there are 2 x Mailbox servers in a DAG and also 2 x servers in a CAS array. These will all be VMs. I have set these up before in a 2003/2007 - 2010 migration but never as part of an expansion so was wondering:

1. To install these new servers, what is the best order I should follow ie. do the CAS servers first and integrate them and then install 2 new mailbox servers or vice versa?
2. Regarding the NetAPP and the mailbox servers, should I create RDM volumes for the mailbox databases or just assign drives from the existing NFS datastore?
3. What is the best way to minimise disruption while doing all of this and also to keep the BES chugging away (these guys are email nuts and losing emails for a day is unthinkable)

I'd appreciate any assistance or advice you can give. Thanks.
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southwestsixteen
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southwestsixteen
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florin_sCommented:
Hi,

1 - CAS first, MBX second
2 - Create Volumes and LUN's, also here is a good document to start regarding NETAPP http://m.softchoice.com/files/pdf/brands/netapp/wp-virtualizing-microsoft-exchange.pdf
3 - Here is a 3 part article that helped me in optimizing the exchange 2010 infrastructure: http://www.msexchange.org/articles-tutorials/exchange-server-2010/management-administration/15-tips-optimize-exchange-2010-infrastructure-part3.html
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southwestsixteenAuthor Commented:
Thanks florin_s. I'll have a look at these and get back to you tomorrow.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
If there is no CAS Array in place then you are in for a lot of work, because you will have to touch the clients to get them to update.

If the licences haven't been bought, then drop the separate CAS role holders, put all roles on both servers and deploy a proper load balancer. A KEMP VM would be ideal. Much better than WNLB, which the Exchange product don't recommend.

Simon.
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southwestsixteenAuthor Commented:
Hi Simon, thanks for the input. Luckily there are not too many clients (approx 25) so it won't be too bad but the killer will be that they currently use a single domain SSL certificate (FQDN of Exch server) for their Outlook Anywhere so this will have to change and will mean reconfiguring all phones, clients etc.

I also have to try to test this with minimal disruption so (as suggested by florin_s) my plan is to install 2 x CAS/HT servers in CAS array, make them the main CAS/HT entry point (this will require reconfiguring Outlook, phones etc as well as getting a new SSL certificate). At this point i'll have them sending mail to the old Exchange server so I can then build the 2 new mailbox servers and set up a DAG with a new mailbox database (actually 2 as they want to incorporate a new accepted domain) and then move over mailboxes. They asked if I could get this up and running by the weekend after only getting me in to do the ESXi installation 2 days ago :)

They have bought the licenses already but I am intrigued by your suggestion of a load balancer vs WNLB. Having used NLB in the past I know how rubbish it is for CAS array. How does a load balancer work with Exchange? Do you configure the clients to point to its IP or FQDN and it then routes to the Exchange servers? Are they very expensive as all that is on the Kemp website is a form to get a quote?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
CAS Array is used JUST for MAPI traffic, not OWA, Outlook Anywhere or ActiveSync. Therefore the only clients that you are updating are those using Outlook.

A load balancer works exactly as you have said - configure a virtual IP address, point the CAS Array address and the SSL certificate address there instead, and then the load balancer does the rest. You can also point SMTP traffic at the same address and have that done the same way. I can usually deploy a virtual Kemp in less than an hour as the provide the templates.

I can only go on UK Sterling prices, but the entry level Kemp is about £2500. Many clients end up using them for other things as well, so it isn't an exclusive to Exchange product.

There are a number of virtual load balancers around though, Kemp is the "go to" product, but that isn't to say no others work.

Simon.
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