by Michael Bell
Welcome to the first article in my series Exchange 2000 Server Administration in 15 Minutes a Week. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes this week to say hello and bring everyone up to spepred on what it is we will be doing here over the next few months. My goal is to provide you with the information necessary to work successfully with Exchange 2000. In doing so, you should gain all the knowledge and skills necessary to pass the 70-224 exam from Microsoft.
Learn Exchange Server 2000 in 15 Minutes a Week covers the skills needed to administer Exchange Server 2000 and focuses on the skills needed for the Microsoft 70-224 exam. The initial article in the series offers an overview of the requirements and factors to consider when installing Exchange Server 2000.
Rather than listing the individual exam requirements here, I have provided a link to the preparation guide for exam 70-224, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Exchange 20000 Server.This guide will tell you everything that you need to know in order to successfully prepare for this exam. However, keep in mind that our goal in this series is going to be focusing on learning to work with Exchange 2000, which will ultimately facilitate our success in passing the associated exam. One of the first skills listed in the preparation guide is installing Exchange 2000, and that is exactly what we will be talking about today. Of course, there are always pre-requisites involved in the installation of any software, and Exchange 2000 is no different. Probably the most important thing to note with Exchange 2000 is that the installation requirements are quite particular. First of all, Exchange 2000 requires access to Active Directory (AD). Therefore, the computer that is hosting Exchange 2000 Server must be part of a 2000 domain. Also, keep in mind that you can only have one Exchange 2000 Organization per AD forest, so this is something that should come up in discussions of the AD implementation process itself!
Your computer should support the following, at a minimum:
PII 300MHz or faster processor
256 MB RAM (128 Minimum)
500 MB Disk Space on the drive containing Exchange.
200 MB free disk space on the system drive.
Having said that, there are a couple of things that we need to keep in mind. The first item that we need to consider when installing Exchange 2000 is RAM. The more the better — Exchange likes RAM. Remember that. Secondly, keep in mind that the more RAM you place in your machine, the more likely it is that another subsystem will become a bottleneck. So be alert. Proactively monitoring the four major subsystems (disk, memory, network, processor) of your Exchange server will allow you to track any potential bottlenecks in the system before they become bottlenecks.
The next item on your wish list, budget permitting, would be at least a dual processor system. This is especially useful if your server will be supporting over one hundred users. Of course Exchange is, at heart, a database application. This means that you will want to pay special attention to your disk subsystem. Need I say that bigger, faster disks, in RAID arrays are the way to go here? Due to the way that Exchange writes data to log files (sequentially), and reads data from the database (randomly), you might also find yourself wanting to separate these two functions. If your budget is large enough, you could provide for a RAID- 5 Array for the Database files, while mirroring the transaction logs on a separate RAID-1 volume. In fact, this is a best practice recommendation from Microsoft.
You may or may not be able to avoid the next one, but Microsoft definitely recommends that you DO NOT install Exchange 2000 on a Domain Controller (DC) . Of course, the reality of the situation is that some smaller organizations that decide to go with Exchange will not be able to afford a separate DC , and in those cases they might make the decision to pair Exchange 2000 up on a DC. If that is the case, just be aware of the hardware recommendations for both a Windows 2000 DC and the Exchange 2000 server as well. With a beefy enough server, you should be fine, but remember the only way to know will be by proactively monitoring the aforementioned subsystems.
You will want to have at least Service Pack 2 for Windows 2000 installed. The reason that I say want, and not need, is that Exchange 2000 can be installed with Service Pack 1 and the
Q271976 hotfix. This hotfix has been rolled into Service Pack 2, so why wouldn’t you install both in one fell shot? One point that I would like to make here is that you will want to make certain that all your DC’s and Global Catalog Servers (GC’s) have at least SP2 installed as well. The reason for this is that Microsoft has acknowledged that intermittent problems can result if all DC’s and Global Catalog Servers aren’t patched, along with all of the servers running Exchange.
Another requirement for Exchange 2000 is that IIS be installed, as IIS provides all of the Internet message transport protocols for Exchange 2000. This is one of the more noticeable differences between Exchange 2000 and its predecessors, and one that we will be exploring later on in this series when we discuss the Internet Protocols supported by Exchange 2000. The default installation of Exchange 2000 will extend these protocols to support the more advanced features of a full blown messaging system like Exchange. The Network News Transport Protocol (NNTP) is also a required component of an Exchange 2000 installation, but it isn’t installed with IIS by default, so if you didn’t install it before, you will need to install it prior to running the Exchange installation program. If NNTP isn’t installed, the Exchange installation will fail with an error message.
Of course, before we jump into the installation, some of you might be wondering to yourself just what all this means? After all, you have worked with Exchange, GroupWise, or Lotus Notes in the past, but you aren’t really certain what type of hardware you should purchase for your new Exchange 2000 servers? Well fear not, my friends, for Microsoft provides us with a capacity planning calculator that should help to at least point you in the right direction. Now I don’t believe that this is the only thing that you should look at before you plan your Exchange deployment, so I have included several links in the Exchange section to resources that will help to prepare you for your deployment.
For example, you should keep in mind that there are many roles that an Exchange server can play in an organization, from a simple e-mail server, to a conferencing server, to a front-end/back-end configuration. These things must be taken into consideration when planning your deployment. Of course, your users’ work habits must also be studied to some degree as well, so that you can classify and plan for the workload that they will place on your Exchange servers. Again, doing your homework ahead of time will save you a lot of pain and heartache down the road!! It also doesn’t hurt to realize that the introduction of Exchange 2000 into your Active Directory forest will change your life forever. That is because Exchange was one of the first Enterprise applications designed by Microsoft to modify the schema of Active Directory. When we discuss modifying the schema, we are really just talking about modifying the Active Directory database. The database is made up of classes (objects) and attributes (properties) , and the introduction of Exchange into the forest simply creates new object classes and introduces new attributes to boot.
Another player to consider is DNS. Where would we be without DNS in our Windows 2000 network? Not only is DNS critical to the proper functioning of AD, but it will play a role in our Exchange deployment as well. Exchange will need to find GC’s and DC’s during the course of a days work, and DNS will help Exchange to do so. We should also have planned for the Organization name that we will use during the install of the first Exchange 2000 server in our Organization (or during /ForestPrep, which we will talk about next week), as well as site and server names, too. And please, don’t watch a Star Trek marathon right before installing your Federation Starships, I mean servers, into the network.
That about covers the basics for our introduction to Exchange 2000. When we pick up next week, we will discuss more installation details, and actually begin the installation process as well. Keep in mind, there’s definitely no lack of resources on the Web, or in print, on Microsoft Exchange 2000. You can follow the link provided here to find additional resources on Exchange 2000. But whatever you do, make certain that you do your homework before you throw that first Exchange 2000 server into your network. Your users will thank you for it, and it will make your life easier as well.