In-Depth

Laying the Groundwork: Exchange Server 2007

Moving to Exchange Server 2007 is a complex process with stringent requirements. Make sure you have the tools and infrastructure in place before you begin.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, although built to stand up straight, began leaning to one side shortly after construction began in 1173. A poorly laid foundation and loose substrate caused the foundation to shift and sink. That's proof positive that a firm foundation is the key to any structure -- be it a monument or a messaging infrastructure like Exchange Sever 2007 (Exchange 2007).

A solid foundation is more critical than ever with Exchange 2007, as there is no in-place server upgrade path from an existing Exchange server to the new version. You have to install Exchange 2007 fresh, and there are only three possible paths:

  • You can create a new Exchange environment for a new company or one without an existing messaging infrastructure.
  • If you have an existing Exchange environment, you can transition by installing Exchange 2007 servers, co-existing briefly and then phasing out the previous versions.
  • You could also install Exchange 2007 in a new organization, migrate all your mailboxes over to 2007 and then remove your old Exchange servers.

There's a good reason for the lack of an upgrade path. Basically, Exchange 2007 requires an x64 architecture-based system with an Intel processor that supports Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (Intel EM64T) or an AMD processor that supports the AMD64 platform. Because earlier versions of Exchange didn't support x64 architecture, there are no systems from which you can upgrade.

It's important to note that the Intel Itanium (IA64) processor will not work with Windows 2003 x64 Editions. Thus, it won't work for Exchange 2007 deployments. Let's look at the system and network requirements you'll need to meet in order to successfully install Exchange 2007.

Essential Elements
Besides needing a 64-bit processor, Exchange 2007 also requires 2GB of RAM per server, a minimum of 1.2GB of hard disk space (on the drive you install Exchange Server 2007), 500MB per language pack and disk partitions formatted as NTFS. Depending on the number of mailboxes and the amount of data you grant each person, you should build out your drive space. You can find more information regarding processor and memory requirements on Microsoft's Web site.

Figure 1
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Figure 1. The Best Practices Analyzer Tool helps ensure you have the optimal configuration.

There are also software requirements for any server upon which you wish to install Exchange 2007. Your servers will have to be running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 x64 or Windows Server 2003 R2 x64 (Standard or Enterprise Edition), as well as .NET Framework Version 2.0, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 and Windows PowerShell. Your system will also need Active Directory for all server roles, except Edge Transport Server. You'll need Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) Service Pack 1 (SP1) if you want to run your server as an Edge Transport.

As with moving to Vista, upgrades to accommodate Exchange 2007 may be unavoidable. "Upgrade your key infrastructure server hardware to 64-bit, as well as your Exchange Server hardware. At least consider migrating DCs, especially in a large environment," says Adam Field, a senior technologist at Content Master (www.contentmaster.com) who has 10 years of Exchange expertise.

Figure 2
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Figure 2. The Exchange Management Console is split into console (left), result (top), work (bottom) and action (right) panes.

"Take some time to learn Windows PowerShell -- you'll need it," he says. "PowerShell represents an entirely new way to manage key functions in your Exchange environment and practice makes perfect."

In terms of preparing AD for the move to Exchange 2007, the Schema Master has to have Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP1 or Windows Server 2003 R2 installed. You'll also need at least one domain controller in each AD site that contains Exchange 2007 running Windows Server 2003 SP1. The AD domain functional level must be Windows 2000 Server-native or higher for all domains in the AD forest where you'll be installing Exchange 2007.

Figure 3
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Figure 3. The Troubleshooting Assistant lets you choose from a list of symptoms, then helps you determine the problem.

You might be wondering if you'll have to prepare the schema and AD before installing Exchange, as you did in previous versions. Well, that depends. Exchange 2007 has several different preparation switches you can run with the setup.com, including the following:

  • /preparelegacyexchangepermissions (to grant Exchange permissions where necessary);
  • /prepareschema (to update the schema for Exchange 2007);
  • /prepareAD (to configure global Exchange objects in AD).

Besides preparing your AD, you'll need to prepare the domains into which you plan on installing Exchange 2007. Use the /preparedomain and/or /preparealldomains command (which will provide permissions on the domain container for your Exchange servers, permission for Exchange Organization Administrators and a list of other necessary configuration and permission changes) to prepare your domains for Exchange 2007.

Figure 4
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Figure 4. You can configure the alias, server and SMTP address of your e-mail list members.

You don't have to run these switches manually. They will run automatically when you install your first Exchange 2007 server in your organization. However, depending on the size of your organization, you may decide to prepare AD in advance.

You may wonder how you would do this if your current network only uses 32-bit 2003 servers, since Exchange 2007 has a 64-bit requirement. However, you can use the 32-bit trial version of Exchange 2007 to begin deployment preparations throughout AD, and in your domains.

It's a good idea to test the health of your Exchange environment with the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer Tool (ExBPA version 2.7), which was developed by the Microsoft Exchange Team. You'll find it at www.exbpa.com (you'll be re-routed to a Microsoft site that presents Microsoft Exchange Analyzers -- once there, simply select ExBPA 2.7).

Top 5 Tips for Exchange Server 2007 Planning

Henrik Walther is an Exchange MVP, technical writer, messaging specialist at Interprise Consulting and author of the book How to Cheat at Configuring Exchange Server 2007 by Syngress Publishing. He recently gave Redmond his top five deployment tips:

1. Run an Exchange Server 2007 readiness check using the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer (ExBPA) tool. The ExBPA report will give you a clear picture of what you'll need to change in your environment before you begin the transition process to Exchange Server 2007 (Exchange 2007). Use ExBPA version 2.7 so you can take advantage of the Exchange 2007 Readiness Check feature.

2. To move over to Exchange 2007, your legacy Exchange organization must be running in native mode. In order to be able to switch the organization to native mode, any Exchange 5.5 Servers (and earlier) must be properly decommissioned and removed from the Exchange organization before you can deploy Exchange 2007.

3. Make sure that the schema master Domain Controller in your Active Directory is running Windows Server 2003 with at least Service Pack 1 (SP1). This is also true for any Global Catalog servers (in each AD site) in which you plan on deploying Exchange 2007.

4. Unlike Exchange 2003 and 2000, Exchange 2007 doesn't use routing groups. Instead, it takes advantage of the existing AD site topology and the underlying network to transport messages between Hub Transport Exchange 2007 servers. This means you should plan your AD site topology wisely, before transitioning to Exchange 2007. It also means you should suppress link state updates, as there's a chance routing loops may occur when they're enabled. If you only plan on creating one routing group connector between the legacy routing group and Exchange 2007, you won't have to suppress the link state updates.

5. Always deploy the Exchange 2007 Client Access server role first. Exchange 2003 and 2000 front-end servers don't support proxy clients for Exchange 2007 Mailbox servers. Also, keep in mind that Exchange 2007 doesn't support public folder access via the Outlook Web Access (OWA) 2007 interface. In fact, you won't be able to access a public folder database stored on an Exchange 2007 Mailbox server. So if your end users require public folder access via a browser, keep an Exchange 2003 or 2000 server in the organization. Public folder access via the OWA 2007 interface will be included in Exchange 2007 SP1.

Speaking of Outlook, many are wondering whether or not you can install Outlook 2007 on the same system running Exchange 2007. "With previous versions of Exchange, this was not possible due to an incompatibility with the Outlook MAPI binaries, and the versions that shipped with Exchange," says Stephen Griffin, creator of MAPIEditor. "Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 no longer ships with the client-side binaries. Now [you can] install Outlook 2007 on the same server upon which you've installed Exchange 2007." --J.P.B.

The tool has a new feature called the Exchange 2007 Readiness Check. You can use this to scan your existing topology to ensure readiness. You can also perform a deep analysis of each Exchange 2000/2003 server to verify that it has all the necessary updates and configuration for an Exchange 2007 deployment.

Experts agree testing with this tool will help. "Administrators planning on migrating to Exchange 2007 should reference Microsoft's best practices for Exchange 2007," says Dave Goldman, Exchange escalation engineer and author of the Offline Address Book Integrity (OABInteg). "I would also suggest becoming very familiar with the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer Tool. With any planning, administrators should set up a sandbox for testing to ensure that when they're ready to set up in production, they can avoid any unnecessary downtime."

Figure 5
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Figure 5. Outlook Web Access now behaves much more like Outlook in native mode.

Exchange Server Roles
When deploying Exchange, it's good to note that the setup process lets you choose the server role for your messaging environment. There are five different server roles from which to choose, each one designed to perform a specific function. The roles include the following:

• Client Access (CA): This role is similar to the front-end server for an Exchange 2000/2003 infrastructure. Users connect to this server from their mail clients (e-mail clients that support MAPI, POP3 or IMAP4, mobile devices that use at least Windows Mobile 5.0, and/or a Web browser).

• Edge Transport (ET): This type of server is placed on the edge of your network as a standalone server. It's not part of the AD domain, so it has to use ADAM and EdgeSync to handle recipient lookups and spam filtering. This role handles all incoming and outgoing Exchange mail. You can also use the ET server to perform anti-virus and anti-spam protection, and lock down your messaging security by applying ET rules that examine messages based on your criteria. Keep in mind that while you can combine other roles on a single system, the ET role must reside alone.

Figure 6
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Figure 6. You can configure the security settings of an Exchange 2007 server in Edge Transport mode.

• Hub Transport (HT): This role handles internal mail flow and routing, similar to a Bridgehead server in previous Exchange environments. When installed in an environment with an ET server, the HT server will work with it hand-in-hand. Messages coming in through the ET server will be passed to the HT and vice-versa. However, you can configure the HT role to perform most of the same features as the ET server. If you don't need the added protection of an ET server, install the HT on a member server connected to your domain, so it doesn't require ADAM and can still send/receive mail from the Internet. Part of your planning should include deciding whether or not you want an ET server and how you'll configure your HT server.

• Mailbox: This hosts both mailbox and public folder databases and provides calendar access and messaging-records management. You'll have to specifically enable the public folders, as they're not enabled by default in Exchange 2007.

Figure 7
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Figure 7. The meeting scheduler lets you check on the availability of all participants.

• Unified Messaging (UM): This merges VOIP with your Exchange mailbox. This means you'll be able to access your voicemail, fax and e-mail from one location, using multiple access interfaces (phone, e-mail or Web browser). For this to work properly, you'll need an IP-PBX or VOIP gateway (if you have a legacy PBX). If you plan on using UM with Exchange 2007, you should seek out the assistance of a UM specialist. Properly configuring this role requires a significant amount of knowledge of PBXs and Exchange 2007.

Migration Plan
There's quite a difference between installing Exchange into a new environment and transitioning or migrating from an existing Exchange organization. Every organization will be different, so there's no single right way. It's important to begin your transition by using the ExBPA tool with the Readiness Check as mentioned earlier, to ensure that you're fully prepared.

Figure 8
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Figure 8. You can also share calendars through Outlook Web Access.

If you plan on transitioning, your first task is to install the Client Access Server role. Install this in each site that will contain a mailbox server. The next step is to install and configure your ET servers (if you plan on using them). Then set up an HT server (which can work with Exchange 2000/2003 bridgehead servers). You'll need these to work with your Mailbox and UM servers.

Next, deploy your Mailbox servers. Then you can start to move mailboxes over using either the Move-Mailbox cmdlet or the Move Mailbox Wizard. Once you've finished moving all your mailboxes and other necessary resources (like public and system folders), you'll be ready to decommission your Exchange 2000/2003 servers.

Keep in mind that both Exchange Server 2000 and 2003 support features that are no longer supported in 2007. If you plan on using those features, you'll need to keep at least one Exchange 2000 server running. Exchange 5.5 isn't supported at all for transitioning purposes. To migrate from 5.5, you'll first have to transition to Exchange 2000 or 2003 and then move towards 2007.

To Read or Not To Read: There's No Question
Exchange 2007 will require a lot of preparation and reading. The good news is that there are plenty of sites already posting articles about how to plan, configure and troubleshoot your Exchange 2007 world. It would be wise to take advantage of all this free advice.

Having a proper foundation and proper preparation are essential. Engineers in Italy recently propped up the Leaning Tower of Pisa to keep it from toppling to the ground. They say it will stand for another 300 years thanks to the efforts of the impressive technology that pulled it back to a safer position. That just goes to show you that besides properly laying the groundwork, you'll need to be prepared for disaster recovery as well -- but that's a topic for another day.

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