Microsoft Releases Test PowerShell DSC Module for Exchange 2013
Microsoft late last week released an experimental solution for maintaining Exchange Server 2013 configurations.
The new xExchange PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) resources module is available for download via this Resource Kit. The module is designed to permit organizations to set the configuration for Exchange Server 2013 farms so that the configuration doesn't diverge from an optimal state.
The "x" in xExchange means "experimental," and it isn't supported by Microsoft, so it's not a production tool as yet. It was developed in the first place because an organization with a complex Exchange environment had configuration problems with IIS after service packs and cumulative updates had been applied, according to an explanation by Mike Hendrickson, a senior consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services, in a blog post.
Hendrickson is the developer of the xExchange module, which contained 24 DSC resources early on. Most of these resources are just a collection of Exchange PowerShell cmdlets, but the idea is to use them to specify a desired configuration, typically using a pull-type architecture, which will tell Exchange Server 2013 to stay in a particular state.
"Once the DSC configuration is applied in pull mode, they can leave the configuration alone, and any divergences in configuration will be automatically corrected," Hendrickson explained.
So far, the xExchange module has only been tested with Exchange Server 2013 with Cumulative Update 5 and 6, using Windows Management Framework 4.0 and Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2. Hendrickson plans to further describe the xExchange module in future blog posts, including a description of how to use it with a DSC pull server.
Microsoft has other experimental DSC modules available. The DSC Resource Kit containing all modules includes resource samples to configure Active Directory, Hyper-V, IIS, Remote Desktop and SQL Server, among others.
Microsoft MVP and PowerShell expert Don Jones has compared using DSC to using Group Policy where you write "a glorified INI file."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.