Use ExDeploy to help plan your Exchange deployment

Scott Lowe illustrates how the planning and deployment tool, ExDeploy, helps you get ready for your Exchange 2010 upgrade.

Planning an Exchange 2010 deployment can be a lot of work. There are a number of moving parts that must be considered, particularly when migrating from an earlier version of Exchange. Moreover, there are different ways you can choose to deploy Exchange 2010.

In order to help you in your deployment efforts, Microsoft has developed a tool called ExDeploy, which can help you in a step-by-step way achieve your Exchange goals.

To this end, you can use ExDeploy for the following scenarios:

  • On-Premises Only
    • Upgrade from Exchange Server 2003
    • Upgrade from Exchange 2007
    • Upgrade from mixed Exchange 2003 and Exchange Server 2007
    • New installation of Exchange 2010
  • Hybrid Deployment (On-Premises + Cloud)
    • Exchange 2003
    • Exchange 2007
    • Exchange 2010
  • Cloud Only (Exchange 2010 only) (Not quite as complete)

To run ExDeploy, visit the full site, and make sure you have Silverlight installed. Since Silverlight works on both Macs and PCs, you can use ExDeploy from either platform; it worked equally well on both of my machines.

You are greeted with a screen asking you to choose the kind of deployment you intend to undertake: On-premises, Hybrid or Cloud (Figure A).

Figure A

Choose your deployment type
Once you've selected a deployment type-I chose to do an on-premises deployment-you're asked to provide a bit more information so that the tool can provide you with the best possible guidance. In my case, I'm asked to decide what kind of on-premises deployment I wish to undertake. As you can see in Figure B, the tool provides guidance for upgrades from Exchange 2003 and/or Exchange 2007 as well as for brand new Exchange 2010 deployments.

Figure B

ExDeploy provides guidance for a broad range of scenarios.
Next up, depending on the options you've already selected, you're asked a series of questions. The questions are tailored to your selection. In Figure C, you can see the questions that are asked when the intent is to perform an on-premises upgrade deployment from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010. In Figure D, you can see the questions that are asked when you choose to perform a hybrid deployment.

Figure C

The questions help the tool provide more exacting guidance. (click to enlarge)

Figure D

You're asked a few questions for a hybrid deployment. (click to enlarge)
With the interrogation out of the way, this is where ExDeploy really shines. Based on the information you've provided, ExDeploy provides you with full deployment guidance for the scenario you've intended and with regard for the answers you've provided to the questions. Figures E and F give you a look at two different deployment plans.

Figure E

A full deployment plan for an on-premises deployment

Figure F

The deployment plan for a hybrid deployment (click to enlarge)

In both Figures E and F, you will note that you're provided with a checklist consisting of step-by-step tasks and objectives that must be met in order to successfully deploy Exchange in the desired configuration. For each task, you're given an estimated completion time, helping you plan just how long something should take and, in most cases, you're provided with PowerShell commands that will help you achieve your goals. You're also given guidance as to how you will know if you've properly completed each task so that you don't accidentally misconfigure something that affects you later.

Personally, I've found the tool to be incredibly helpful in planning Exchange 2010 deployments. It's not perfect, though; some availability mechanisms and advanced topics such as using Database Availability Groups are not covered, but you're given 90% of the answers.

Just as I don't depend solely on the Exchange mailbox calculator for sizing Exchange environments, neither do I depend solely on ExDeploy for my planning. That said, I do use both tools as a part of my larger planning and deployment efforts.