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Installing and Configuring the Basics of Exchange Server 2013 for a Brand-New Environment (part 5)

10/7/2013 1:56:30 AM

12. Planning Your Exchange Server 2013 Installation

Installing Exchange Server 2013 in a Test Environment

To reduce risks, prevent end-user downtime, and minimize the exposure of the production environment, it is typically recommended that the first implementation of Exchange Server 2013 be conducted in an isolated test lab rather than being installed into a production environment.

Having a test environment isolates functional errors so that if there are any problems they will not be injected into the existing production environment. In addition, the test environment acts as a “Proof of Concept” for the new Exchange Server 2013 design.

Occasionally, organizations attempt to repurpose their test environments into their production environment. Administrators should be cautious, as “shortcuts” are sometimes taken in the lab—the use of evaluation copies of software and/or underpowered hardware may work flawlessly in the lab, but transitioning the equipment to production results in inadequate performance and unnecessary downtime.

Production equipment should be rebuilt and deployed from scratch, not moved from a test environment.

Prototyping an Exchange Server 2013 Installation

Some of the steps an organization should go through when considering to build a test Exchange Server environment include the following:

• Building Exchange Server 2013 in a lab

• Testing email features and functionality

• Reviewing Exchange Server 2013 server roles

• Verifying design configuration

• Testing failover and recovery

• Selecting to install on physical hardware or virtual machines

Much of the validation and testing should occur during the testing process. It is much easier, for example, to test a disaster recovery rebuild of Exchange Server in an exclusive test environment than it is to do so in a production environment, where production servers or users could accidentally be impacted.

In addition, testing application compatibility in a lab environment can be much more effective than attempting to do so in a production environment, where you might suddenly find business-critical third-party fax, voice mail, or paging software nonfunctional.

Other items to test and confirm in your lab environment include the following:

Sites and Services Configuration—Ensure replication is completed as expected.

Role Based Access Control—Ensure the proposed security settings allow proper user and administrative access.

Building an Exchange Server 2013 prototype test lab can be a costly affair for companies that want to simulate a large, global implementation. For companies with a global presence where it is necessary to provide messaging services for thousands of employees, in multiple sites throughout the world, mirroring their production site can prove a daunting task. However, without successfully prototyping the installation, upgrade strategy, and application compatibility before they move forward in production, they cannot be assured that the deployment will go smoothly.

The cost of building a lab of this magnitude using physical servers can be prohibitive; there can be AD domain controllers, Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 servers, and application servers. The cost of building the lab could eat up a large part of the overall budget allocated to the project.

However, with the improvements in server virtualization, companies can significantly lower the costs associated with the prototype phase. Server virtualization enables multiple virtual operating systems to run on a single physical machine, while remaining logically distinct with consistent hardware profiles. For further cost savings, the hardware utilized for the virtual lab can be purchased with an eye toward reutilization in the production environment once the prototype phase is complete.

Upgrading from Previous Versions of Microsoft Windows

Many organizations already have an existing directory structure in place. It is great if a company has the opportunity to implement a new Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 AD environment from scratch; however, this is not usually possible for environments with previous versions of Exchange Server deployed.

When upgrading an existing Active Directory infrastructure, the deployment plan should be carefully thought out and tested before implementation in the production environment.

13. Deploying Active Directory from Scratch

Before installing Exchange Server 2013, there must be an existing Active Directory environment to support it. The environment must have at least one domain controller running either Windows Server 2008 Standard or Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard or Enterprise, or Windows Server 2012. The following sections focus on the steps needed to install an Active Directory environment on a Windows Server 2008 R2 platform from scratch. This example can be followed in a lab environment to prepare it for the deployment of Exchange Server 2013.

This sample deployment will consist of a single site and single domain controller, as might be found in a small organization. The steps we will deploy include the following:

• Installing the Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 operating system

• Promoting a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Server to a domain controller

• Configuring Active Directory Sites and Services

• Configuring a global catalog server

Installing the Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Operating System

Microsoft Exchange servers rely heavily on the Active Directory environment they are installed in.

For those experienced with installing previous versions of the Windows Server operating system, most of the concepts covered in this section will feel very familiar. The installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is straightforward, and takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour to complete. The following procedure is based on installing Windows Server from the standard media provided by Microsoft. Many hardware manufacturers include special installation instructions and procedures specific to their hardware platform, but the concepts should be roughly the same.

For our test lab, we will install Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Enterprise Edition on two machines. The other will have the Exchange Server 2013 software installed on it.

To install Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (Standard or Enterprise Edition), perform the following steps:

1. Insert the Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 DVD into the DVD drive.

2. Power up the server and let it boot to the DVD-ROM drive. If there is currently no operating system on the hard drive, it automatically boots into the DVD-ROM-based setup.

3. Select the Language to Install, the Time and Currency Format, and the Keyboard or Input Method you want to install. When ready, click Next to continue.

4. Click Install Now.

5. Select which version of the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system you want to install. For this example, we will be installing Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise (Full Installation) on a 64-bit platform. When ready, click Next to continue.

6. Review the Microsoft Software License Terms, click the I Accept the License Terms check box, and click Next to continue.

7. Select Custom (Advanced) to install a clean copy of Windows.

8. Select the physical disk on which Windows will be installed and click Next to continue.

The server will begin the installation process, rebooting several times during the process.

9. A default user account called Administrator will be created, but you will have to set the password for this account. When prompted with “The User’s Password Must Be Changed Before Logging on the First Time,” click OK to continue.

10. Enter the new password for the Administrator account in both the New Password and Confirm Password fields, and then click the arrow to continue. When prompted with “Your Password Has Been Changed,” click OK.

Once the installation process has completed, there will be an Initial Configuration Tasks screen. Perform the steps in the Provide Computer Information section as follows.

Setting the Time Zone

To set the server time zone, follow these steps:

1. Click Set Time Zone. On the Date and Time tab, review the current Date, Time, and Time zone settings and configure them as needed.

2. If desired, up to two additional clocks can be configured for additional time zones with customized display names. If you want to display more than one clock, select the Additional Clocks tab and configure them.

3. By default, Windows Server 2008 R2 servers are configured to automatically synchronize with time.windows.com. The server is configured to synchronize once a week. If you need to change the source of your time updates, you can click the Internet Time tab. This process changes when servers are joined to the domain.

4. Click OK to return to the Initial Configuration Tasks screen.

Configuring Networking

Windows Server 2008 R2 has a completely redesigned implementation of the TCP/IP protocol stack, which is known as the Next Generation TCP/IP stack. This updated functionality applies to both Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

1. Click Configure Networking, double-click the Local Area Network Connection icon, and then click Properties.

2. Double-click the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option and input appropriate values for the IP Address, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway, and Preferred DNS Server for your environment.

3. Click OK to save your changes.

4. Perform the same steps to configure the Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6).

5. Save all settings and exit the Configure Networking utility.

6. Launch Internet Explorer and confirm Internet connectivity. Adjust your network settings if necessary to allow the computer access to the Internet.

Providing the Computer Name and Domain

Each computer on a Windows network and in Active Directory must have a unique computer name. This name, known as the NetBIOS name, allows users, resources, and other computers to contact this computer on the network.

A standard NetBIOS name is limited to 15 characters and should only consist of letters (A–Z, a–z), digits (0–9), and hyphens (-). For example, companyabc-dc is a standard computer name, but companyabc_dc is nonstandard. Although the implementation of a DNS server will allow you to use nonstandard computer names and still find the resources in your environment, servers as critical as domain controllers and Exchange servers should only use standard computer names.

To configure the computer name and domain, follow these steps:

1. Click Provide Computer Name and Domain. If you have already closed your Initial Configuration Tasks screen, you can click Start, right-click Computer, select Properties; then, under Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings, click Change Settings.

2. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.

3. Under Computer Name, enter the computer name for this machine, and then click OK to continue.

4. Acknowledge that you must restart your computer to apply these changes by clicking OK, and then click Close.

5. When prompted with “You Must Restart Your Computer to Apply These Changes,” click Restart Now.

Enabling Automatic Updating and Feedback

Windows Server allows you the option of automatically applying updates as they are released from Microsoft. Although this option may be a good idea for some applications, most organizations require change control procedures before updating servers as business critical as domain controllers and Exchange servers.

1. Click Enable Automatic Updating and Feedback. Although the first option, Enable Windows Automatic Updating and Feedback, states that it is “recommended,” in this author’s opinion, that setting is not recommended for domain controllers or Exchange servers. Instead, click Manually Configure Settings.

2. Under Windows Automatic Updating, click Change Setting. Set the automatic updates according to your organization’s policies. The author recommends selecting either Download Updates but Let Me Choose Whether to Install Them or Check for Updates but Let Me Choose Whether to Download and Install Them. In addition, the author recommends Give Me Recommended Updates the Same Way I Receive Important Updates, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Configuring automatic updates.

3. When ready, click OK to continue.

4. Review the Windows Error Reporting and Customer Experience Improvement Program settings. The author recommends the default settings, as shown in Figure 4. When finished, click Close to continue.


Figure 4. Configuring Windows Error Reporting and Customer Experience Improvement Program.

5. Click Download and Install Updates. If prompted to install new Windows Update Software, click Install Now. As part of the installation process, the Windows Updates application will automatically close and reopen and begin checking for updates.

6. At this point, you can either view the important and optional updates that are available and select which ones to install or simply click Install Updates to automatically download and install the selected updates.

7. Accept any license agreements and click Finish to begin installing available updates. Monitor the installation, as you may have additional prompts from the installation process. When finished, if a restart is required, click Restart Now.

8. When the server has rebooted, log on again and return to the Download and Install Updates section.

9. Click Find Out More for Get Updates for Other Microsoft Products.

10. From the Microsoft Update site, place a check mark in the I Agree to the Terms of Use for Microsoft Update check box and click Next.

11. Select Use Current Settings and click Install. If prompted to install new Windows Update Software, click Install Now.

12. When complete, your server now checks for updates for all Microsoft products on the server (such as Exchange Server), and not just for the standard Windows updates. Close all windows to finish.

This concludes the installation of the base operating system for both the domain controller and the Exchange Server 2013 server.

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