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Help with Exchange 2007 Standby Continuous Replication:

OK so we are running Exchange 2007 on a Server 2003 VM.
We are going to clone this VM onto another virtual host for fail over purposes.
My thinking was that I can:
- create the clone
- give the clone a different name
- give the clone a different IP
- copy database changes, etc to the cloned VM
- in the event the active VM fails, remove the Exchange Server VM from AD, change the name and IP of the cloned VM to that of the failed VM and that would be that
I've verified that this works no problem for VMs that contain file shares, etc.
VMs that contain databases like this Exchange Server, I'm not sure how to keep the database synced.
I see that Exchange 2007 SP1 introduced something called standby continuous replication (SCR).
Does anyone have any experience with this?
It sounds like you simply need to have the same folder paths setup on the 2nd server, which we would seeing as it would be a clone.
Other than that it sounds like you need to enable it through EMS.  This I'm not 100% sure how to do.
It looks like there are some parameters that tell the VM how often to replicate.
Can anyone give me a hand with setting this up?
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homerslmpson
Asked:
homerslmpson
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1 Solution
 
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
What you want to do isn't going to work. Simple as that.
You cannot clone Exchange and simply change a few settings. It is heavily integrated in to Active Directory and that means you have to actually install the product. Renaming an Exchange server breaks Exchange.
If you want to introduce a second server then you need to build a new server and setup the features required.

The TechNet Documentation covers the feature in some depth.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-GB/library/bb676502(v=exchg.80).aspx

However you do need an additional Exchange licence. You cannot purchase Exchange 2007 any longer, so if you want HA, I wouldn't bother with another Exchange 2007 server, instead upgrade to either Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013. You can have HA on standard edition of both, using Windows 2012 (or 2012 R2 for 2013 only) standard edition as the host.

Simon.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Wow. That's unfortunate.
What is the purpose of Standby Continuous Replication?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
SCR is purely to have a copy of the data on another server. It requires manual intervention to bring it online, so I wouldn't really call it high availability. I never really did much with it, as Exchange 2007 wasn't around for long - with Exchange 2010 DAG being so simple to implement anyone who wanted HA moved quickly to that version.

My reference to not working is the cloning part. That isn't going to work. SCR will work, but you have to build a server for it, rather than cloning an existing.

Simon.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
OK well we are trying to keep cost to a minimum.
I'd love to buy Exchange 2013 and Server 2012 along with an outside IT company to make it all come together but we don't have the funds for it.
That being said, what I'm looking to do is have the Exchange server up and running within 30 minutes in the event the virtual host was to fail.
Do you have any suggestions on how we could accomplish something like this?
We have another virtual host available to use.  
Could we:
- power off the current Exchange Server VM
- create a clone of this VM and move the clone onto the 2nd virtual host
- leave this cloned VM powered off
- setup another computer/server to backup all of the files in F:\ExchangeLogFiles as they are added by using robocopy monitor parameter
- in the event the working VM was no longer available, power on the cloned Exchange Server VM
- copy the log files on from the other computer/server to F:\ExchangeLogFiles on the cloned VM and somehow use these log files to restore Exchange
Is something like this possible?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
30 minutes on Exchange 2007 SCR - not possible.

If you have a business requirement for that level of high availability, then someone needs to make the funds available. Simple as that.

Cloning of Exchange doesn't work for any kind of DR purpose. The clone is out of date as soon as you have taken it, as Exchange is heavily integrated in to the AD domain and should be considered a living product.
You cannot think of it as an application and a pile of files to move about, the kind of tricks that you are able to do with a simple file system simply will not work with Exchange.

What you want to achieve without funds is simply not going to possible, and if someone higher up is asking for it then they need to make some cash available. Compared to what HA used to cost, the Exchange method is very cheap.

Simon.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
If I manage to get another Exchange 2007 Standard license, will we be able to do what we are trying to do?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
With a second Exchange 2007 licence you can do SCR, which will allow you to have a copy of the data on a second server. It isn't automatic failover though, it requires manual intervention.

Simon.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Do you know if there is a site that clearly outlines the steps needed to do SCR and the additional (manual) steps?
I can probably get another Exchange 2007 Standard license once I have the steps outlined.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
The process is well documented on TechNet and on msexchange.org. You will probably need to look at quite old articles because of the age of Exchange 2007.

Simon.
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