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Clustering Microsoft Exchange Server 2000

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There is no one application more responsible for the Internet than email. What started as electronic mail, short text messages sent from one computer to another, has grown into an industry known as messaging. Messaging now includes message transfer, scheduling, calendars, meeting planning, video mail, instant messaging, and workgroup collaboration. Although Microsoft came late to the table with Microsoft Mail, they have more than made up for their tardiness through the advent of Exchange Server. Over the past few years, Exchange Server has managed to supplant the gods of messaging from their thrones and gain an ever increasing market share of the messaging pie. But how do you make Exchange Server reliable and scalable, enough to meet the demands of today’s businesses. Let author and columnist Joseph M. Lamb guide you through the construction of a clustered Exchange Server utilizing Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Exchange Server 2000.
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The Internet was started in an effort to share information between geographically separated sites. There is no one application more responsible for the Internet than email, or electronic mail. What started as electronic mail, short text messages sent from one computer to another, has grown into an industry known as messaging. Messaging now includes message transfer, scheduling, calendars, meeting planning, video mail, instant messaging, and workgroup collaboration. Although Microsoft came late to the table with Microsoft Mail, they have more than made up for their tardiness through the advent of Exchange Server. Over the past few years, Exchange Server has managed to supplant the gods of messaging from their thrones and gain an ever increasing market share of the messaging pie.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 includes a vast array of functionality that has rocketed Microsoft even further toward their goal of complete market domination with more and more companies migrating from Lotus Notes and Novell Groupwise based email systems. To accent the previous Exchange service offering of advanced messaging and robust protocol support, Exchange Server 2000 adds conference server as well as an instant messaging server to its arsenal of power packed features.

As companies begin to migrate their email environment to Microsoft Exchange, more and more they are seeking ways to ensure its fault tolerance and stability for their enterprise. Previous versions of Exchange Server have sought to meet this need through clustering, but have fallen short of the vision. However, the new implementation of Exchange Server 2000 is more consistent with that vision, and is built with clustering in mind. Not only does Exchange Server 2000 install and configure easier than ever on a cluster server, but it allows better administration through integrated tools and smoother fail over.

Overview of Exchange Server Clustering

Prior to installing Exchange Server 2000 Enterprise Edition on any system, there are a few prerequisites that must be met. The first prerequisite, of course, is the Microsoft Clustering Service. Make sure that your cluster server software is installed and functional before attempting to install Microsoft Exchange Server 2000. The installation will not create the cluster, but will only enable Exchange to run on the existing cluster infrastructure. Exchange Server 2000 also requires the NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol) Server and the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) service. The SMTP Service is typically installed by default, but the NNTP service is only installed as an option within the IIS (Internet Information Server) installation. You can view your installed services from the Start menu by choosing Start, Settings, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, and then Services.

Exchange Server 2000 clustering has been re-engineered to run on Windows 2000 Advanced Server clusters more efficiently and problem free than ever. As you may remember from earlier versions of Exchange, the setup routine installed a full set of binaries and data files to the shared drive storage, and a subset of the Exchange utilities to the failover node.

The new installation takes advantage of locally stored binaries, utilizing the cluster nodes ability to fail over to a locally installed program on either node. The setup routine is now cluster aware, and installs only binaries (executables) during the installation. Once setup is complete on one server, the other server runs through the same setup routine. This installs a local copy of the executable files on each server.

NOTE

Because the binaries are stored locally now, it is imperative that the path to the binaries is identical on both nodes. It is recommended that you do not change the default path, to ensure consistency, but if you must change the path, make sure you change the path on both installations.

The database files, contrary to how they were installed in previous versions, are not placed on the shared disk array during setup. The setup program only installs binaries during installation. The data files will be created later in the setup process.

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