CAS Network Load Balancer

We are looking to set up the Windows NLB to manage our 2 Exchange Hybrid 2013 servers, in preparation of migrating mailboxes to Office 365.

We don't really want to spend the money on an appliance, thus were interested in setting up a Windows NLB to balance between the two hybrid servers.

Is the preferred method to set up a Windows Server 2012 R2 Virtual Machine in the DMZ and then just give it an external IP, CNAME and SSL  SAN Certificate?

What would you all recommend in this scenario?

Thanks in advance.
Christian HansUndecided... Asked:
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
You cannot put Windows NLB on a server with the mailbox role, which pretty much rules out your design, as hybrid has the mailbox role.
Therefore you have two choices.

1. Additional servers with the CAS role.
2. A hardware load balancer (or virtual appliance).

My preferred option would be the second one. A virtual load balancer from Jetnexus or Kemp.

If you are doing a full migration to Office365, then a virtual load balancer trial might give you enough time to do the job.

While certain functionality of an Exchange server is now supported in a DMZ, it is not something I ever recommend.


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Christian HansUndecided... Author Commented:
Thanks Simon, Ive been looking at Kemp and have worked a little with Microsoft support and they are saying we can get it to work with the built in NLB feature in Server 2012... even though my gut tells me to get something like Kemp in place.

We actually don't have the Mailbox Role on the Hybrid Servers, they will only be used for migrating and I guess passing data back and forth between the cloud and on-prem environments.
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
If MS Support claim they can get it to work, then I would work with them to do so. It isn't something I would do. If you want something reliable, then you don't use WNLB.

You cannot put Windows NLB on a server with the mailbox role
sorry to be picky, but that's not true. You cant put NLB on if using DAGS, but the mailbox role specifically doesn't have a problem with NLB.

Anyway, agree that hardware NLB is always preferable, but if you have no choice windows NLB does work fine. it's not really worth it though, as exchange 2013 utilizes built in facilities that negate most of the need for NLB.

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