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Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

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  • Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

    There is so much information about Exchange 2010 that I don’t even know where to start when looking at planning a DR solution. I’m hoping for some suggestions from you all. All servers are VMWare Exchange 2010 SP1 Enterprise on Server 2008 R2. There is no problem with licensing or needing additional VM’s so if I need ‘em – tell me! Here is my Exchange environment:

    Primary Site – (Site A)
    2 CAS/HUB servers in a CAS array using WNLB
    2 MBX servers in a DAG
    I have another physical location(call it Site B) that has no servers but has productions users. It ties to the primary site with a 200MB MetroE connection and to the DR site with another 200MB MetroE. All internet access and traffic is routed in and out at Site A.

    DR site –
    1 CAS/HUB server (another one is allocated, if needed)
    1 MBX server (another one is allocated, if needed)
    DR site is connected to the primary site with a 500MB MetroE conection. I have plenty of internet bandwidth coming in from a second ISP.

    We don’t need to go over the top, at this point, and provide 99.999% uptime. And, we have several other big projects going on so we just need a quick solution instead of a dev/test/prod solution. We are mostly concerned with losing internet connection from Site A to the ‘world’. If Site A goes dark then we would like Site B to be able to run off of the DR location until Site A comes back online. It doesn’t have to be an automated process but it would be desirable for it to be quick.

    This is how I envision it working but I’m sure it doesn’t work this way….
    1. Can I just add the DR site’s MBX servers to make a stretched DAG? If Site A goes dark then I can activate the databases in the DAG at the DR location(I know all about split brain). We already have the email tested and taken care as far as the delivery from Postini.
    2. Can I add the DR CAS/HUB server to the existing CAS array? When I stop one of the CAS servers in the WNLB, the other one takes over. So, my reasoning is that if Site A goes dark then the DR CAS server should take over.

    In my mind, Site B should be able to talk to the DR site over its 200MB MetroE connection and everything should work.

    I know I am missing many pieces of the puzzle. Either that of there is a better way to be doing this…

    Suggestions? Comments?

  • #2
    Re: Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l.../dd351278.aspx suggests you can add servers to a DAG provided the new server meets all the pre-reqs.

    You can't have a CAS array that spans multiple AD sites though. Manual intervention is required as in the event of a failure you would need to change the DNS records to point to the DR site. Get your DNS provider to drop your TTL as low as they can and you'll minimise downtime.
    BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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    Cruachan's Blog

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    • #3
      Re: Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

      wNLB I don't believe is supported across different subnets. You also are best to activate datacenter activation mode for DR server. That is worth a review of that setting. You could also setup mail delivery to potentially be via both servers via MX records with different costs.

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      • #4
        Re: Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

        Thanks for the replies.

        I already have setup and tested the email being delivered to both sites through costing. And, the DR server are exactly the same as Site A, VMWare Exchange 2010 SP1 Enterprise on Server 2008 R2 - exact same specs, RAM, and storage.

        So, maybe I was overthinking this whole thing. This is what I came up with:
        • Add the MBX servers from DR Site to the DAG(using DAC to avoid split brain)
        • Create a CAS array at DR Site


        If Site A goes dark then I would bring up the mailstores as active at DR and change the DNS at Site B to point to the CAS array at DR.

        Or, am I way off base still? I'm sure there are better ways to do this but I am just looking for a quick backup until I can dedicate resources to planning out a better DR solution.

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        • #5
          Re: Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

          If Site A goes down and you have the DAG configured it should be a seemless failover of the mailbox stores. Weighted MX records mean you should have no disruption to mailflow, so it's just a case of changing the DNS Host (A) records for the clients to connect to the DR site instead os Site A.

          We setup a 3 server DAG (2 at main site, one at DR site) and had a NIC failure on one of the MBX servers. There was zero client disruption, no-one noticed when it happened or when the NIC was replaced and the server brought back online.

          I don't think you need a CAS array at the DR site though. We setup the DR site with an integrated MBX/CAS/HT server to save on extra Exchange licenses, but if you already have the licenses then it won't hurt.
          BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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          Cruachan's Blog

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          • #6
            Re: Exchange 2010 SP1 with multiple locations

            Unless there are going to be live mailboxes in the DR site then you do not need a CAS array in that AD site. In the event of a failover just point the DNS to that location internally and it will work fine. That is how it is designed to work.

            WNLB is generally considered to suck. If you want something fully automated then you will need to use a load balancer. Kemp do a virtual load balancer appliance which you will be able to use on your VM platform.

            Simon.
            --
            Simon Butler
            Exchange MVP

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