How to deploy Exchange Server 2016
Before we go into deployment, let's quickly see what's new in this version.
- Client Access Server (CAS) is now a part of the Mailbox server role. In fact, the Mailbox server role is the only internal role in 2016.
- The existing Outlook Web app has been renamed to Outlook on the Web.
- MAPI over HTTP is the default modern protocol for this version.
- It is integrated with OneDrive and Outlook Web Apps Server.
- This version provides support for Outlook Modern Authentication, also called ADAL.
- The Hybrid Configuration Wizard is no longer a tool, rather it's a small cloud-based app that can be downloaded at runtime.
- It can take additional types of sensitive information such as Driver License Number, credit card number, and passport number. With this new feature, there are more than 80 different types of sensitive information that you can use for authentication.
- Transport rules have been enhanced with additional conditions and actions.
- Outlook 2013 saw a major change in the architecture of public folders. This version enhances it further by providing support for In-Place eDiscovery and In-Place Hold.
- In 2016, you can do a compliance search with PowerShell.
Now that we've seen a brief look at the features, let's jump into a step-by-step guide on how to deploy Exchange Server 2016.
Exchange 2016 supports co-existence with earlier versions, though it is limited to Exchange 2013 CU10 and Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11 or later versions. So, if you have Exchange 2007, you'll have to get rid of it before you can install 2016. Also, you'll have to ensure that your 2010 and 2013 exchange servers are brought up to the latest versions.
The requirements for Exchange 2016 are:
- Windows Server 2008 in Full Functional Mode (FFM) and later.
- Global Catalog Servers in each site with Exchange installed in each of them.
- Outlook 2010 SP2 and later.
- Outlook 2013 SP1 and later.
- Outlook 2016.
- Outlook for Mac 2011 or later.
- Supports only full GUI installs of Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016.
- .NET framework 4.5.2 or a later version of 4.5.x only.
- Windows Management Framework 4.0.
- Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) 4.0.
- Office Web Apps Server.
- Microsoft Edge, IE 11, and the most recent versions of Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox for Outlook on the Web.
Once the requirements are met, you need to prepare the system for Exchange 2016.
Preparing the System
First off, you need to ensure that all Exchange servers meet the prerequisite support levels mentioned earlier. Next, recreate Edge subscriptions and update Internal Active Directory before running the setup. Otherwise exchange setup simply won't work for you.
The next step is to run the command "PrepareAD." To do this, go to your command prompt, and type:
D:\>setup /preparead /iacceptexchangeserverlicenseterms
However, before running prepareAD, make sure you don't have to introduce any previous versions of Exchange that you have not introduced earlier. For example, if you run 2016 prepareAD in a 2010 version, you'll never be able to use the 2013 version ever. If you think you'll use 2013 at some point, you'll have to install all four internal server roles of 2013 on at least one server in your organization before running "PrepareAD." You can even use a VM to install these servers and shut them down, if you think that's easier. Either way, you'll have to run these installations to reintroduce earlier versions. This applies mostly for migrations from 2010, because if you have 2013 already, there is nothing to be introduced.
Moving on, Exchange 2016 creates a new default OAB, which is nothing new as all new versions of Exchange do that. Of course, this new OAB will be the same as what you already have, especially if you're using Exchange 2013. But, Outlook clients will see a new OAB, so they'll download it. To avoid this, you need to hard-code the existing OAB server on all your Mailbox databases, so they point to the new OAB server. This way, you'll save on a ton of download activity.
Now, we're going to talk about deployment.
The first step is to create what we call a deployment site, as this will save you from some of the headaches that can occur on a production site. This creation process simply leverages the fact that Active Directory allows sites to have overlapping subnets. This way, I can create a subnet on one site, and take a single IP from that subnet and assign it to a different site. Active Directory will recognize this, so it'll know that all the IP addresses are for a production site, but just a few ones that are taken from it are for a deployment site.
Once that's done, enable MAPI over HTTP, as it is recommended for 2016. It will be enabled by default if Exchange 2016 is the first exchange server you're installing, if it is installed in an Exchange 2010 org, or if Exchange 2016 is installed on a Exchange 2013 org that already has MAPI over HTTP enabled.
If it's not already enabled, the installation process will gently remind users to enable it.
Lastly, you can choose to install the Office Web App server for in-line document viewing in Outlook on the Web.
Once the system is prepared, the next step is to install 2016. The easiest way to do it is:
- Install new server in a deployment AD site, which we discussed above.
- Install the necessary prerequisites and reboot the server.
- Install Exchange 2016 in a deployment AD site. The installation process wizard will take you through the process, and it's quite self-explanatory. All the necessary Windows components will be installed in this process. Reboot again for the changes to take effect.
- Configure the server, and change its IP address to move it from the deployment to production AD site.
- Finally, add your server to the load balancing pool.
That's really how easy it is to install Exchange 2016.
In short, Exchange 2016 is the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server that comes with many new features geared towards an evolving digital space. Most of the deployments for Exchange 2016 have been greatly simplified when compared to the previous versions, but nevertheless, it still requires some up-front planning, especially in terms of requirements and system preparations.