Installing, Configuring and Testing an Exchange 2007 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) Based Mailbox Server (Part 3)

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In part two of this articles series we installed the necessary Windows components, enabled and configured the Majority Node Set (MNS) Quorum with File Share Witness as well as the transport dumpster on the Hub Transport Server. In this part three we’ll install Exchange Server 2007 on both nodes in the Windows 2003 cluster. We’ll then finish off by verifying that the CCR functionality works as expected.


Installing the Active Clustered Mailbox Role on E2K7Node1


It’s time to install the Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 bits on each node, we’ll start with E2K7Node1. First, if you haven’t already done so, I recommend you copy the Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2 binaries to a drive locally on each node. When you have done so double-click


Figure 36:
Launching Exchange Setup


The Exchange Server 2007 Installation Wizard will start, and as you can see Step 1: Install .NET Framework 2.0 and Step 2: Install Microsoft Management Console (MMC) have already been completed.


If you have installed Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 on each node, you need to download Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 and install it manually (by following the link in Step 2). But since I’m using Windows 2003 R2 Servers in my test environment, the MMC 3.0 is installed by default.


Figure 37: Exchange Server 2007 Installation Menu


As you can see we still need to complete Step 3: Install Microsoft Command Shell (MSH), before we can start installing Exchange. Therefore click the link to download MSH then unzip and install it.


Figure 38: Installing Microsoft Command Shell (MSH)


The Exchange Server 2007 Installation Wizard should refresh automatically, so now click Install Microsoft Exchange. Click Next then accept the License Agreement and Next once again. Decide whether you want to enable Error Reporting or not (a good idea to enable this functionality since the Exchange Product Group will receive any obscure errors you should experience in your cluster setup) then click Next.


Figure 39: Enabling Error Reporting


Now select Custom Exchange Server Installation then click Next.


Figure 40: Selecting a custom Exchange Server installation


Tick Active Clustered Mailbox Role and click Next.


Figure 41: Selecting to install an Active Clustered Mailbox Role


Now select Cluster Continuous Replication then specify a name for the mailbox server (the name you want your Outlook clients to connect to) and a unique IP address on your public network. Finally specify the path for the clustered mailbox server database files or use the defaults (as is the case in this article series) then click Next.


Figure 42: Selecting to install a Cluster Continuous Replication cluster and specifying name and IP address of the clustered mailbox server


Let the readiness check complete, and if no issues are found click Next to begin the installation.


Figure 43: Exchange Server 2007 Clustered Mailbox Role Readiness Check


The Exchange Server 2007 installation wizard will now copy the needed Exchange files, install and configure the Mailbox Role then finally create and configure the clustered mailbox server resources locally and create the object in Active Directory. When each step has been completed untick Exit Setup and open Exchange System Manager (yes this will be corrected in a later build), then click Finish. We don’t want to open the Exchange Management Console just yet, we’ll install Exchange on the second node first.


Installing the Passive Clustered Mailbox Role on E2K7Node2


Log on to E2K7Node2 with a domain admin account and do the exact same steps as we did when installing Exchange Server 2007 on E2K7Node1. Only difference is you should tick Passive Clustered Mailbox Role instead of Active Clustered Mailbox Role as shown in Figure 44 below.


Figure 44: Installing the passive clustered mailbox role on the second node


Verifying the functionality of the Cluster Continuous Replication based Mailbox Server


It’s time to verify that our Exchange 2007 clustered mailbox server is working as expected. Let’s first open the Cluster Administrator and check whether the respective Exchange Resources have been created. If you take a look at Figure 45 below it looks good, we have both nodes listed in the left pane and all Exchange resources have been created and are currently owned by E2K7Node2.


Figure 45: Listing all Exchange cluster resources in the cluster administrator


Try to open the Exchange Management Shell by clicking Start > All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 > Exchange Management Shell on one of the nodes, then type Get-ClusteredMailboxServerStatus –Identity E2K7CCR. As you can see in Figure 46 below the status of the clustered mailbox server is Online, and E2K7Node2 is currently the active node.


Figure 46: Requesting the online status of the clustered mailbox server


Now that we have verified the clustered mailbox server is online, let’s try to move the Exchange resources from node one to node two using the Move-ClusteredMailboxServer CMDlet. In the test environment used in this article, we do so by issuing below CMDlet:

Move-ClusteredMailboxServer -Identity:E2K7CCR -TargetMachine:E2K7Node1 -MoveComment:"This is a test!"


You’re then asked to confirm this action, type Yes then hit Enter. After a while the clustered mailbox resources will have been moved to the first node.


Figure 47: Moving the clustered mailbox resources to the first node


Even though it’s possible to move the cluster resource groups between nodes using the Cluster Administrator console, you should always do so using the Move-ClusteredMailboxServer CMDlet as the Move Group task in the Cluster Administrator console isn’t Exchange 2007 aware.


Let’s also take a look at the clustered mailbox server in the Exchange Management Console. To do so click Start > All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 > Exchange Management Console, then drill down do Server Configuration > Mailbox. Notice the clustered mailbox server which we named E2K7CCR is listed in the Result pane and that it’s recognized as a cluster server.


Figure 48: Viewing the clustered mailbox server in the Exchange Management Console


Let’s try to take a look at the transaction log file replay from one node to the other. The easiest way to do that is to generate a few log files by sending a couple of test messages with an attachment or two.


Since the new transaction log file size in Exchange Server 2007 is 1 MB instead of 5 MB as was the case in previous versions of Exchange. It’s not required to attached files larger than 1 MB in order to generate these log files.


As you can see in Figure 49 below, the log files were replayed to E2K7Node2 within the same minute as they were generated on E2K7Node1.


Figure 49: Log file replay


Simulating a failover from E2K7Node1 to E2K7Node2


Okay let’s try to simulate a fail over from E2K7Node1 (which currently is the active node) to E2K7Node2, so that we can see what will happen from the Outlook client perspective. In order to switch from one node to the other we’ll issue below CMDlet which we also used earlier on in this article:

Move-ClusteredMailboxServer -Identity:E2K7CCR -TargetMachine:E2K7Node2 -MoveComment:"This is a test!"


When a manual move or a failover occurs, the balloon shown in Figure 50 will appear as all services needs to be stopped on E2K7Node1 before they are brought online on E2K7Node2.


Figure 50: Connection to the Exchange Server has been lost


Depending on the amount as well as size of the databases in your Cluster Continuous Replication setup, this will take somewhere between 10 seconds to approximately 1 minute, which shouldn’t cause panic for the end-users. When E2K7Node2 has taken over, the end-users will be notified that the connection to the Exchange Server has been restored (Figure 51).


Figure 51: Connection to the Exchange Server has been restored




You benefit from several advantages when you choose to install the Exchange 2007 Mailbox Server role in a Cluster Continuous Replication setup in your organization. The primary reason here is that you no longer have a single point of failure, when talking about the Mailbox/Public Folder databases. Should the database on one node crash, an automatic fail over to the other node containing the secondary database is completed. This also means you no longer need to use a shared storage system in the CCR setup, as is the case with Exchange 2007 Single Copy Clusters as well as cluster setup in previous versions of Exchange. In addition the two nodes in the CCR setup can even be placed in two different locations, as long as they belong to the same subnet. Not only that, the installation of the Exchange 2007 cluster has also been further simplified over previous versions. Since CCR setup makes use of log file shipping and replay to a secondary database, you also don’t have to do full online backups far as often as was the case in Exchange 200x and earlier versions. Last but certainly not least, the fail over process been improved in several areas now that the new file share witness model have been introduced.


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