SolutionBase: Installing Exchange Server 2007

Microsoft has released a new version of Exchange, but how much of a pain is it to install? Brien Posey shows you what you'll face.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic download.

Microsoft has finally completed the long-awaited Exchange Server 2007. Because Exchange Server 2007 is radically different from Exchange Server 2003, I'll walk you through the deployment process.

Before we begin

Before even thinking about installing Exchange 2007, you should make a full system backup of one of your domain controllers. The Exchange 2007 installation process extends the Active Directory schema. There shouldn't be any problems with the installation process, but if a problem should occur during the schema extension, your Active Directory database could be left in a corrupt state. That's why it is so important to make a backup of at least one domain controller before you begin.

I should also mention that Exchange 2007 is role based; it's designed to be modular. This allows various servers in your Exchange Server organization to perform different tasks. By doing so, you can distribute Exchange Server's workload and prevent any one server from becoming overburdened. Implementing a distributed deployment also helps your Exchange Server organization to be more secure.

It is important that you decide which servers will host which roles prior to beginning the installation process. Planning an Exchange 2007 deployment is beyond the scope of this article. I have, however, written a separate article that is dedicated to the planning process. For the purposes of this article, I will be walking you through a simple, single-server deployment.

System requirements

As I mentioned earlier, Exchange 2007 requires a 64-bit machine. More specifically, the server must have an x64- or IA64-compatible processor. Furthermore, the server must be running Windows Server x64 or Windows Server 2003 R2 x64; you can use the Standard or the Enterprise Edition.

An interesting side note: even though Exchange 2007 requires a 64-bit operating system, the Exchange Management Console does not. It can be installed on the 32-bit version of Windows Server 2003 (with SP1 or higher) or on Windows XP (with SP2 or higher).

The Exchange 2007 installation will consume about 1.2 GB of space on the server's hard disk, plus an extra 200 MB of space on the system drive. Keep in mind that these numbers do not include databases or transaction logs. When planning your disk subsystem, you should keep in mind that Exchange 2007 requires that all volumes be formatted with the NTFS file system.

Microsoft recommends that your Exchange 2007 server contain a minimum of 2 GB of RAM. If a server is hosting multiple roles, then Microsoft recommends installing 4 GB of RAM, plus 2 MB per mailbox, up to a maximum of 8 GB. Oddly enough, Microsoft recommends various maximum amounts of memory depending on the server's role. For example, Microsoft recommends a maximum of 16 GB of memory for edge transport or hub transport servers, but no more than 4 GB of memory for a unified messaging server. You can read more about these requirements and other hardware planning considerations at Microsoft's Web site.

Preparing your server

Before you begin the installation process, ensure that your server meets the prerequisites. The first thing you must do is install a 64-bit Windows Server OS. I recommend using Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition. While researching this article, I asked a friend at Microsoft whether I should recommend running Windows 2003 or Longhorn Server. My friend explained that Longhorn Server will not initially be supported because Exchange 2007 has already been completed, and Longhorn Server is still in development. He speculated that Longhorn Server may not be officially supported for use with Exchange 2007 until Service Pack 1 for Exchange 2007 is released.

Another pre-install requirement is to install the dependency components:

  • .NET Framework 2.0
  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0
  • Microsoft Windows PowerShell

If your server is running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition, then the .NET Framework and the Microsoft Management Console will be installed by default.

If these components are not installed by default with your OS, you can download them from the Microsoft Web site. There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions available, but your server will require the 64-bit version. Download the 64-bit Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 or the Microsoft Management Console 3.0.

After installing these two components, insert your Exchange Server 2007 CD, and you will see the splash screen shown in Figure A. As you can see, the first two steps of the installation process have already been completed.

Figure A

This is the main Exchange Server 2007 installation screen.

The next step in preparing your server is to install the Microsoft Windows PowerShell component. To do so, select Step 3: Install Microsoft Windows PowerShell link. When you do, you will be taken to a Web site where you can download the Microsoft Windows PowerShell. Assuming that your server is running a default Windows installation, the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration will be enabled, which may prevent you from being able to download this component. If that is the case, you can go to another computer to download the Microsoft Windows PowerShell.

Installing Exchange Server

Now that you have installed the necessary dependencies, it's time to install Exchange 2007. Select Step 4: Install Microsoft Exchange link, shown in Figure A. Setup will take a couple of minutes to initialize, but eventually Windows will launch the Setup wizard.

Select Next to bypass the wizard's Welcome screen and you will see a screen displaying the End User License Agreement. Accept the license agreement and select Next. At this point, you will see a screen asking you if you would like to enable error reporting.

The basic idea behind error reporting is that if the server experiences an error (and error reporting is enabled), then the server will silently transmit information about the error to Microsoft, using an encrypted HTTPS connection. Error reporting has good and bad points. The downside to error reporting is that the error reports can sometimes be rather large. Depending on the amount of Internet bandwidth available to you, your users may experience slow Web browsing while the error report is being transmitted. In organizations with plenty of bandwidth, the effects of transmitting these reports will likely be negligible. I have noticed an impact on my own organization while transmitting reports, but my ISP only provides me with a very small amount of bandwidth.

The advantage to enabling error reporting is that when Microsoft receives the error report, their server runs an automated check to see if a solution to the problem is available. If there is a known solution, Microsoft will send a link to a Web page containing the solution.

My personal thoughts on error reporting are that the benefits of error reporting outweigh the impact in most cases. This is especially true for organizations with well-maintained servers that rarely experience errors.

After deciding whether or not to enable error reporting, select Next and you will see a screen similar to the one that's shown in Figure B, prompting you to select the installation type.

Figure B

You can perform either a typical or a custom installation.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Exchange 2007 is role based. When you decide if you want to perform a typical or a custom installation, you are essentially deciding which roles you want to install on the server. My article on planning an Exchange 2007 deployment discusses roles more extensively, but I want to give you a quick summary of what the various roles are.

  • Hub Transport Server Role: Used for message routing. This role is required whether you need to route messages between two mailboxes on the same server or between the Exchange Server and Internet-based recipients.
  • Client Access Server Role: Similar to the Exchange Front End Server role found in Exchange 2003. It provides the Outlook Web Access Interface through which external users may access the server.
  • Mailbox Server Role: Required for any server that will be hosting mailbox stores.
  • Unified Messaging Role: Acts as an interface between the Exchange 2007 Server and a compatible PBX phone system. This allows voice and fax messages to be placed into user's inboxes.
  • Edge Transport Role:Cannot be used in conjunction with any other roles. Servers running this role are typically placed in an organization's DMZ. These servers work to filter out viruses and spam before messages are allowed to flow into Exchange Servers within the perimeter network.

For the purposes of this article, we will install a typical Exchange Server. Therefore, select the Typical Exchange Server Installation option. Before selecting Next, verify that the installation path is appropriate for your needs.

What happens now depends on whether you have legacy Exchange Servers in your organization. If your Exchange organization contains Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 Servers, then you will see the screen shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You must create a routing group connector to your legacy Exchange Servers.

As you can see, Setup prompts you to create a routing group connector to your legacy Exchange Servers. The routing group connector is required because Exchange 2007 does not use routing groups. Instead, it simply treats the Active Directory site structure as its routing topology. Since Exchange 2000 and Exchange 2003 depend on routing groups, a routing group connector is necessary for backward compatibility purposes.

To create the necessary routing group connector, simply select Browse. After a brief pause, Setup will display a list of Exchange 2000 and 2003 servers in your organization. Select the server you want to establish the routing group connector to, and select OK | Next.

Setup will now perform a readiness check, as shown in Figure D. This readiness check will ensure that all of the necessary prerequisites are met. For example, if your organization contains servers running Exchange 2003, then the readiness check will verify that they are running Service Pack 2 or later. In addition, you will likely need the IRow::GetColumns fix.

Figure D

Exchange Server performs a readiness check prior to installation.

When the readiness check completes, you will probably see two warning messages displayed. The first warning message informs you that the Active Directory schema will be upgraded if you continue. You've already made a backup of a domain controller, so this is no big deal.

The other warning message informs you that if Outlook Web Access is in use, then you will need to replicate the free/busy folder from your Exchange 2007 Server to every other free/busy server in the organization. This is something that you can do after Setup completes.

Assuming there are no other serious warnings and no errors, select Install. Setup will begin installing all necessary files, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Setup installs the selected roles individually.

When the file copy process completes, select Finish to close the Setup Wizard. Exchange 2007 is now installed.

That's it

As you can see, the actual installation process for Exchange 2007 is fairly simple. Still, I strongly recommend spending some time planning your Exchange 2007 deployment before you ever install Exchange on the first server.

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