In at the deep end – Exchange Hybrid Goodness Part 2

So…. we move onto the illustrious part 2 of our Exchange Hybrid blog goodness.  In part 1 we covered the versions, pre-reqs, useful tools and some of the more finer points that tend to get overlooked as part of a hybrid build.

In part 2 we are actually going to get onto the build phase of Exchange, hold onto your hats this is going to get a little fun!

I am making an assumption that as per part 1 of this series you have reviewed your current environment and have patched your Exchange 2007 servers to the latest required patch levels.  We should now be raring to go and ready to install our first Exchange 2013 server.

Installing Exchange 2013 is actually pretty straight forward and doesn’t need any sort of technical kung fu to get going….. Did I just say straight forward, haha I was joking! Generally speaking its straight forward, there are a couple of pre-installation tasks that we need to complete before we can kick the install off.

In my scenario I am going to be installing Exchange 2013 on a Windows server 2012 machine, there are a few things that we need to be aware of before we jump in and start the install, these are;

  • The Active Directory forest functional level should be at the very minimum Windows Server 2003
  • At least one of the domain controller’s should be running Windows Server 2008
  • As in other versions prior to 2013 the best practice advice is to deploy Exchange 2013 as a member server

In my particular scenario the Exchange Server 2013 that I am building is going to be a multi role server so it will be my Client Access Server (CAS) and my Mailbox (MBX) server.  There is a little tidbit of information here that I think it is worth mentioning as it is not something that a lot of people are aware of when they begin considering adopting a hybrid approach for their organisation.  This little bit of information is that, Microsoft to encourage businesses to adopt a hybrid approach and ultimately move their mail off of on-prem servers to Exchange online offers what is known as a hybrid Exchange product key.

What this license entitles you to is an install of Exchange Server 2013 with both the MBX and CAS roles installed acting solely as the hybrid server.  This license is only free for as long as you are not hosting mailboxes on the server, the moment that you begin creating or migrating mailboxes is when you are in breach of the licensing terms.  You can get a hybrid license by clicking on this link, you will be taken to the page below:

ExchangeHybridKey

If you select “Get Key” the next page will ask you to specify what version of on-premises Exchange hybrid servers you have installed or that you plan to install.  The wizard will then verify the eligibility of your Office365 subscription and if successful will give you a license to be used with your hybrid build..

ProductKey

Now that we have a license key to use, we move onto installing the pre-reqs for Windows 2012.  Now this is a straightforward task, simply copy the few lines of powershell I have below and windows installer will take care of the rest for you.

Install-WindowsFeature AS-HTTP-Activation, Desktop-Experience, NET-Framework-45-Features, RPC-over-HTTP-proxy, RSAT-Clustering, RSAT-Clustering-CmdInterface, RSAT-Clustering-Mgmt, RSAT-Clustering-PowerShell, Web-Mgmt-Console, WAS-Process-Model, Web-Asp-Net45, Web-Basic-Auth, Web-Client-Auth, Web-Digest-Auth, Web-Dir-Browsing, Web-Dyn-Compression, Web-Http-Errors, Web-Http-Logging, Web-Http-Redirect, Web-Http-Tracing, Web-ISAPI-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Filter, Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console, Web-Metabase, Web-Mgmt-Console, Web-Mgmt-Service, Web-Net-Ext45, Web-Request-Monitor, Web-Server, Web-Stat-Compression, Web-Static-Content, Web-Windows-Auth, Web-WMI, Windows-Identity-Foundation

Once all of these windows features have been installed you will need to reboot the server. Its now time to install the last few applications which I have listed below with links to the download locations:

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

Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Pack 64 bit

Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Pack SP1 64 bit

To start the Exchange install you need to make sure that the account you are using has the appropriate rights to Active Directory this is because as part of the install Exchange will make changes / update the Schema.  The account either needs to be added to the Schema admins or the Organisation Management group, generally speaking I usually add my account to both and make sure that it is running as a domain admin and local admin on the server aswell.

I am not going to take you step by step through the Exchange install as it is fairly straight forward, just make sure that you select the Mailbox and Client Access roles on the Server Role Selection window.

ExchangeRoles

After you have made all of your selections, the setup will start.  At this point I would strongly recommend that you either feed yourself or top up on your caffeine quota for the day as the install generally takes quite a bit of time to complete.

SetupInProgress

Once completed restart the server.

As I am sure that you are aware the Exchange Management Console (EMC) and the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) are no longer in this version of Exchange and both tools have been replaced by the Exchange Admin Center (EAC).  This is a web-based management console which has been specifically optimised for on-premises, online, and hybrid Exchange deployments, in other words its pretty hot property!

There are several advantages to using the web based EAC, one is that you can partition Internet and intranet access from within the ECP IIS virtual directory. With this functionality, you can control whether users are allowed to have Internet access to the EAC from outside of your organization, while still allowing an end user to access Outlook Web App Options.  Pretty cool right?!

Because the EAC is now a web-based management console, you’ll need to use the ECP virtual directory URL to access the console from your web browser. In most cases the EAC’s URL will look similar to the following:

  • Internal URL: https://<CASServerName>/ecp   The internal URL is used to access the EAC from within your organization’s firewall.
  • External URL: https://mail.domain.com.au/ecp   The external URL is used to access the EAC from outside of your organization’s firewall. Some organizations may want to turn off external access to the EAC.

See Turn off access to the Exchange admin center for instructions on how to do this

In our particular scenario as I mentioned in part 1 we are installing Exchange 2013 in a coexistence scenario where we are still running Exchange 2007, and my mailbox is still housed on the Exchange 2007 mailbox server.  What this means is that the browser will default to the Exchange 2007 ECP.

You can access the EAC by adding the Exchange version to the URL. For example, to access the EAC whose virtual directory is hosted on the Client Access server MBX-13, use the following URL: https://MBX-13/ecp/?ExchClientVer=15.

Conversely, if you want to access the Exchange 2007 ECP and your mailbox resides on an Exchange 2013 Mailbox server, use the following URL: https://MBX-07/ecp/?ExchClientVer=14.

Its now time to install the latest CU, CU10 is available.  I would strongly recommend that you buck tradition and install the latest CU that you are able to get your hands on.  There are several reasons that I suggest this, primarily though its because any changes / updates that are made to the hybrid wizard will be better catered for in an up to date on-prem Exchange server.

Now that we have Exchange installed, we can move onto the hybrid aspects of this blog series which is really what we have been building upto!  Stay tuned for part 3 🙂

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