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How to fully replicate MS Exchange at Second Site

Posted on 2014-09-12
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Last Modified: 2014-09-25
Here is our  setup:

1) 2 Locations connected by VPN (Cisco)
2) Both locations have all 2008 R2 Standard servers
3) Exchange 2010 SP3 at Primary location

Basically, we want to setup Exchange at the second site as well. We have two objectives:
1) Full replication so that if one goes down, the other can pick up the load
2) The clients at the second location treat the second exchange server as their primary server.

Just looking for a good hw-to link and some advice. Thanks!
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Question by:JesusFreak42
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Expert Comment

by:MIRSYS
ID: 40320151
This is not something that's done in 5 minutes. Find more info here:


http://www.msexchange.org/articles-tutorials/exchange-server-2010/management-administration/planning-deploying-testing-exchange-2010-site-resilient-solution-sized-medium-organization-part1.html

Depending on the size of the company you could be better of just using virtualisation and then replicating the exchange VM to the remote site.
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Author Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40320160
The problem is that the second location may be sold off in a year or two, so they want the impossible, i.e. a place that is both separate and integrated. :). In any case, they've already purchased the second machine for the second location.
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by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 40320162
It isn't really possible to do what you want reliably with two servers.

First you would need to change the host OS to either Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise, or Windows 2012. Then deploy a DAG. However Active/Active doesn't work well over separate sites, because you cannot maintain both sites if the link drops. Therefore you would need to have four servers total, two DAGs. Active/Passive (with the passive in the other location).

The processes to do so are all documented on TechNet.

Simon.
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Expert Comment

by:MIRSYS
ID: 40320165
Well then you sure don't want to start deploying DAG and whatnot.
If they bought the machine then look into deploying a vmware vsphere essentials with a veeam license (will not cost much) and then you can virtualise the exchange on site 1 and replicate it to site 2

In case of problems you boot the exchange in site 2.

This will be a lot less hassle and headache.
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Khawaja
ID: 40320482
There is an issue with MIRSYS' suggestion as you are relying on backups and in case of a failure on server in main site, powering the server in offsite will not be synchronized and you may need to do a dial-tone recovery whereas with a DAG, you may be out of sync by 15 minutes or so.  DAG would be the way to go and it also provides redundancy.
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Author Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40320952
Hmmm.. OK. Two more questions:

1) Is it expensive to upgrade from standard to enterprise? I believe DAG's are the way to go.
2) Could I have basically each location be a "backup" for the other site? In other words, site 1 is active for site 1, but backs up site 2, and site 2 is active for site 2, and backups site 1.
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Expert Comment

by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
ID: 40321046
The strategy I outlined above with four servers would do the backup for each site.
Buy a machine with enough horsepower to run both servers on the same physical server, then you only need two licences for Enterprise edition of Windows 2008 R2 - as you can have up to four virtual machines per physical server.
Although even with Windows 2012 you can have two VM per physical machine, which will probably be a cheaper way to go.

Upgrading your existing server to enterprise edition is NOT supported, so you would need to have new hardware for this task.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40322947
Just a quick question on upgrading existing servers.... what is the link below referring to:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/server_core/archive/2009/10/14/upgrading-windows-server-2008-r2-without-media.aspx
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Author Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40324489
Ok. So how does this plan sound
1.The server at Site 2 has not been setup yet. We can update this one to Enterprise.
2.Install Exchange at Site 2
3.Export the exchange server from Site 1 to Site 2.
4.Uninstall Exchange from Site 1
5.Upgrade Exchange server at site 1 to Enterprise.
6.Reinstall Exchange at Site 1
7.Go with the following scenario - "Two Exchange servers with CAS, HT and Mailbox and deploy hardware Load Balancer."'

My last question is whether the Cisco Small Business Routers we have will be able to function as as hardware load balancers.
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Accepted Solution

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Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 40332940
Unless you have a lot of bandwidth between the two sites I wouldn't do as suggested.
If you have a server for site 2, then bring it site 1 so you can run both servers next to each other. That will allow you to have two servers local while you move everything around.
Furthermore it will make seeding easier, as you can seed the databases local and then move the server (with the copy) once complete. The only data that then has to go over the site connection will be what has changed while the server has been moved.

The small business routers will not be load balancers. You may not even need them if you are able to accept some downtime while DNS changes are made.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40333652
How much downtime are we talking about?
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Assisted Solution

by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 40333681
The only downtime will be at the end of the move mailbox process - so about a minute or two per mailbox.
When you come to move the servers there will be no downtime because the active server is still active.

Simon.
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Author Closing Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 40344551
Simon,
    Thanks for walking me through some of this. We successfully setup both, but one of them is passive right now. When the second location opens up, we will be making a database for each location and making the database active at its home location. Then, if one of them dies, we can just activate the database at the location still functioning.
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