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Installing and Configuring the Basics of Exchange Server 2013 for a Brand-New Environment (part 1)

10/7/2013 1:48:09 AM

Installing an Exchange Server is like taking a hike through the woods. If you have a map and can accurately follow the directions, you can quickly and safely arrive at your destination. If you get lost in the process (or try to “wing it”), you might or might not reach your destination, but even if you do, it is likely that you will take a lot longer and travel over more challenging roads.

To those who have worked with Exchange Server 2010 in the past, the Exchange Server 2013 Installation Wizard will seem familiar. The wizard walks the administrator through the installation of updates, checks for the necessary prerequisites and allows for the selection of specific server roles for deployment. However, the installation wizard does not cover all twists and turns. There are steps that must be taken to prepare the Active Directory (AD) environment and steps that must be taken to prepare the underlying operating system on the server you are installing on.

1. Understanding the Exchange Server 2013 Server Roles

As with Exchange Server 2010, Exchange Server 2013 has various roles that can be installed on the server to perform specific functions. With Exchange Server 2010, there were five major server roles. The original design intent dating back to Exchange Server 2007 was to allow the roles to be modular where they could reside on a single server (for small environments) or be distributed to multiple servers throughout an organization.

However, even as the roles evolved in Exchange Server 2010, the reality was that they remained tightly coupled, presenting real-world restrictions on how they could be distributed on servers geographically. With the goal of improving hardware utilization, deployment simplicity, cross-version interoperability, and failure isolation, which can serve self-hosted small organizations to Office 365, Microsoft invested in a major re-architecture of Exchange to realign the roles into the following two (primary) roles:

• Client Access server role

• Mailbox server role

Client Access Server Role—Providing User Connectivity and Mail Routing

The Exchange Server 2013 Client Access servers assume the roles formerly handled by the Exchange Server 2010 Client Access and Hub Transport roles. The Client Access servers are responsible for accepting connections from clients and proxy requests to the back-end Mailbox servers. Like the front-end servers found in Exchange Server 2003, Client Access servers manage connectivity via Outlook Web App (OWA) and ActiveSync, and like the Client Access servers in Exchange Server 2007, they also manage connectivity from Post Office Protocol (POP) and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) users. Exchange Server 2010 Client Access servers added the ability to also manage Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) (such as Outlook) client connectivity. In a pure Exchange Server 2010 environment, clients never had to connect directly to their Mailbox servers—all connectivity was to the Client Access server. The Exchange Server 2013 Client Access servers perform authentication, redirection, and proxy services for all clients, such as Microsoft Office Outlook, Outlook Web App, mobile devices, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and POP, as well as accepting and delivering mail from and to other mail hosts on the Internet.

Client Access servers can be organized into Client Access server arrays. By taking responsibility for managing these additional connections, Client Access servers allow Mailbox servers to focus on their primary role—processing messaging requests.

Mailbox Server Role—What It’s All About

The Mailbox server role is the core role within Exchange Server 2013. Mailbox servers host the servers that contain mailboxes, mail-enabled objects such as contacts and distribution lists, as well as public folder data. In Exchange Server 2013, the public folders architecture uses mailboxes to store both the hierarchy and public folder content. Public folder databases have been eliminated. High availability for the hierarchy and content mailboxes can be provided through database availability groups (DAGs).

The Mailbox server runs two Transport services. The Hub Transport service routes emails within the organization and provides connectivity between the Front End Transport service, hosted by the Client Access server, and the Mailbox Transport service. The Mailbox Transport service routes email messages between the Hub Transport service and the mailbox database.

In addition, the Mailbox server role includes the Unified Messaging service.

2. Understanding the Prerequisites for Exchange Server 2013

The prerequisites that are needed will depend on the Exchange role installed on the server. Before installing Exchange Server 2013, the administrator should become familiar with the prerequisites for each of the server roles. This section covers the prerequisites for the implementation of Exchange Server 2013 in a Windows networking environment.

Active Directory Infrastructure

Exchange Server 2013 relies on an Active Directory infrastructure to do its job. AD Sites and Services, domain name system (DNS), global catalog (GC) servers, domain controllers—all must be in place and configured properly for Exchange Server to function well.

Windows Server 2008 R2—64-Bit All the Way

From inception through Exchange Server 2003, Exchange Server was always a 32-bit application. Although this technology was able to handle the needs of organizations in the past, organizations today have more demanding messaging requirements.

In a world with ever-increasing message traffic, the need for highly available systems that allow access from multiple client technologies, through the Internet, and through continuous synchronization with wireless devices resulted in the desire for increased productivity through increased performance.

To address these growing needs, Microsoft released a 64-bit version of its Exchange Server 2007 server for production environments. Although Microsoft still produced a 32-bit version of the product, it was intended primarily for nonproduction environments.

With Exchange Server 2010, 32-bit support went away; likewise Exchange Server 2013 is only being released in a 64-bit version.

By utilizing 64-bit architecture, Exchange Server has significantly enhanced processor and memory utilization. This ensures higher performance gains, the ability to handle an ever-increasing volume of messages, the capability of supporting more users per server, and more simultaneously connected mail clients. This last item is critical as more and more organizations take advantage of the capabilities of OWA and ActiveSync.

The Exchange Server 2013 application can only be installed on Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard or Enterprise Editions with Service Pack 1 (SP1) (or later), or Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter RTM or later operating systems. However, if you plan on having the Mailbox server be a member of a DAG, you must use the Enterprise or Datacenter Edition. Windows 2008 Server R2 SP1 Standard Edition does not support the Windows Clustering feature required for DAGs.

Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5

Microsoft .NET Framework is a Microsoft Windows component that allows the ability to build, deploy, and run Web Services and other applications. The .NET Framework is a key offering from Microsoft, and most new applications created for the Windows platform rely on it in one way or another.

.NET Framework 4.5 builds on the features added in previous releases, provides core new features and improvements, and adds a number of new features to support .NET for Metro style Apps, portable class libraries, parallel computing, networking, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, and Windows Workflow Foundation.

Windows Server 2012 ships with the .NET Framework 4.5 already installed; however, on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 servers, .NET Framework 4.5 must be installed separately. Exchange Server 2013 requires .NET Framework 4.5.

Windows Management Framework 3.0

Windows Management Framework 3.0 contains Windows PowerShell v3, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and Windows Remote Management (WinRM). Windows Management Framework 3.0 is included with Windows Server 2012 and does not need to be installed separately as with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

Windows PowerShell v3

Administrators who are familiar with Exchange Server 2007 or 2010 have most likely had some experience with Windows PowerShell. For many, the implementation of PowerShell addressed one of the most glaring shortcomings of older Windows installations—the lack of a usable command-line interface for performing administrative tasks.

PowerShell is an extensible command-line shell and scripting language from Microsoft that integrates with the .NET Framework to allow administrators to perform just about any task in an Exchange environment from a command line. From simple to complex, scripts can be written using the PowerShell scripting language to save administrators from time-consuming and repetitive tasks.

Although some have found the PowerShell scripting language to be difficult to learn and challenging to implement, few who have seen the results of this product being put into action can complain about the results.

Windows PowerShell v3 introduces several new features to PowerShell v2 that extend its capabilities, including the following:

Workflows—Workflows allow running of long-running activities in sequence or in parallel to perform more extensive and complex management tasks. Workflows are repeatable, interruptible, and recoverable.

Robust sessions—Windows PowerShell v3 sessions automatically recover from network failures and interruptions. Disconnected sessions can be reconnected from a different computer without interrupting running tasks.

Scheduled jobs—Schedule jobs to run regularly or as triggered by an event.

Delegated administration—Delegated administration allows setup of commands with a delegated set of credentials that can be run by users with limited permissions.

Simplified language syntax—Commands and script syntax now appear more like natural language.

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

WMI is the infrastructure for accessing management data and operations on Windows operating systems. WMI scripts and applications can be used to supply management data to operating system components and other Windows-based products or automate administrative tasks on remote computers. WMI in Windows Management Framework 3.0 supports an extended Windows PowerShell semantics application programming interface (API), allowing the ability to write Windows PowerShell cmdlets in native code.

Windows Remote Management 2.0 (WinRM)

The Exchange Management Shell is a command-line interface that enables you to manage your Microsoft Exchange organization without having to rely on a graphical user interface (GUI).

WinRM 2.0 is the transport mechanism that enables your local version of Windows PowerShell to connect to remote Exchange servers, whether that server is in the next rack or across the country. Utilizing WinRM 2.0, administrators can manage servers, devices, and applications throughout their organizations from a single management server.

Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API 4.0, Core Runtime 64-Bit

The Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) provides a managed-code multilayer platform for developers to implement communication- and collaboration-enabled middle tier services that work with Microsoft Lync Server.

Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Pack 64-Bit and Service Pack 1

The Microsoft Filter Pack contains a series of IFilters that allow search services to index specific file type contents. The filters are intended for the use of the Microsoft search services. Service Pack 1 is a roll-up of all previously released updates that contain security, performance, and stability updates.

3. Understanding High Availability and Site Resilience in Exchange Server 2013

In Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft introduced new technologies that allowed organizations to deploy their Exchange environments with improved availability. Known as Continuous Replication, this technology was offered in three flavors—Local Continuous Replication (LCR), Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR), and Standby Continuous Replication (SCR).

Although these options were a significant improvement over previous technologies, organizations found that the technologies were challenging to implement, as they required a significant amount of time and experience to deploy. This was largely due to the fact that some parts of the technology were owned by the Windows operating system, and some parts were owned by Exchange Server.

Exchange Server 2010 built on these technologies and combined the onsite data replication features of CCR with the offsite data replication features of SCR. This combination of technologies is known as a DAG. This architecture is designed to provide recovery from disk-level, server-level, and site-level failures. Although Exchange Server 2013 also uses DAGs and mailbox database copies, Microsoft has enhanced the high-availability platform, using the Exchange Information Store and the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) for improved availability, easier management, and reduced costs. These improvements include the following:

Managed Store—A newly rewritten Information Store process that works with the Microsoft Exchange Replication service to manage mailbox databases

Managed Availability—Tightly integrated internal monitoring and recovery-oriented features to help prevent failures, proactively restore services, initiate server failovers automatically, and send administrator alerts

Support for multiple databases per disk—Ability to support a mix of active and passive database copies on the same disk to allow greater disk utilization efficiencies

Unified namespace for site resilient configurations—Ability to have a unified namespace across multiple Active Directory sites for resilient configuration

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