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A new guy is here :)

I have a discussion on this topic scheduled for mid-August, and I'd like to see how much I'm prepared and how many things I actually got right :) Also, how much more I need to learn on the subject :)

The situation is the following:

There are 5 servers available to me, all with 8 CPU cores and 16 GB of RAM.

I will need to set up an Active Directory environment that will have an Exchange Server member server. Of course, it will only need to be functional for me to send a test message with it and prove the concept, but it should also theoretically be enough to run with 100-200 users.

So here are my thoughts.

I would use only 3 servers, as the load on the would be minimal. 2 for AD and 1 for Exchange.

Since this will be new infrastructure with no legacy servers, why not go with Windows Server 2008 R2 forest and domain functional levels. It will allow a lot of nice features for all users :)

One AD server would be a DC in forest root domain and have all 5 FSMO roles: AD1 - Schema Master, Domain Naming Master, PDC, RID, Infrastructure Master. I will also install DNS role on AD1.

AD2 will be a secondary DC for the domain and also host DNS in AD integrated zone.

(I think I can make them both Global Catalogs, but in one domain there should be no benefit to it..? If anyone can shed some light on this, it would be great ;)

Third server, EX3, would host the following Exchange roles: Mailbox Server, Hub Transport and Client Access Server. I don't want Unified Messaging role, and I believe I don't need Edge Transport role as well. Please discuss if you believe I'm wrong.

So this is about it. I believe I should not have much problems defending this setup against professor. It will be okay for Exchange server to have 8 CPU and 16 GB RAM, but it would be overkill for AD1 and AD2. I have no solution to this other than virtualization, but this will not be the topic.

How would you carry this out? How would you spread servers/roles out if you need Exchange in a second domain?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. I originally posted this in, which proved to be a mistake. I'm guided to re-post my question here. Thanks.

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closed as not constructive by Chris S Jul 26 '12 at 13:15

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This really isn't the right site for your question either, as it's intended for professional sysadmins, not students, and your question is really impossibly vague. Without knowing environmental constraints and usage scenarios, it's not possible to tell you whether or not the hardware is overkill, underkill or whatever else. Likewise, the environment dictates the roles and which servers they go on, so... without that information, your question can't be answered. Not that adding that information will really help a lot - this isn't a "what's the answer to my homework assignment?" site. – HopelessN00b Jul 26 '12 at 11:04
While this site is intended for Professional Sysadmins (et al) only, students are welcome if they're asking pertinent on-topic questions. Open ended discussions about a proposed configuration are off-topic (see the FAQ for details). If you have a question about a specific problem, or a specific perceived problem with your configuration, that would be on-topic. Please don't be discouraged from asking question, but "does this look right" will be closed. Also, you got a couple good pointers. Thank you and welcome to Server Fault! – Chris S Jul 26 '12 at 13:15

If you've got so many servers to your disposal and you want to prove that's it's rock solid then I would propose

  • AD1
  • AD2
  • Exchange 1 (CAS+HT in NLB)
  • Exchange 2 (CAS+HT in NLB)
  • Exchange 3 (MAILBOX in DAG)
  • Exchange 4 (MAILBOX in DAG)
  • FileShareWitness

You just have to make sure that AD1, Exchange 1, Exchange 3 are on separate servers from AD2, Exchange 2, Exchange 4 and FileShare should be on different one. You can virtualize everything to not waste 16gb of ram and 8 core cpu on just one AD. Your solution while it will work it won't provide additional security. When Exchange goes down your mail is down. With 4 servers you can provide stability so that when you update hosts, your hosts go down due to hw problems you've got your architecture still working. With one server.. it's hard to achieve that.

Some notes:

  • Edge cannot be installed on one server with all other roles it has to have separate server
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+1 This is a perfectly reasonable setup, if not extreme overkill. But as you noted, no point in wasting servers if this is just an academic discussion. – Chris S Jul 26 '12 at 13:11
@ChrisS I wouldn't say it's extream overkill. Proper Exchange setup would require at least 2 Exchange servers. Putting DAG on in on 2 different physical machines would also require load balancer (which will cost about the same as 2 additional exchange servers for CAS+HT). CAL's are the biggest cost of Exchange. That's the setup I'm setting up right now for 300+ users. 2 physical servers 2 exchange on each and 1 ad on each. FSW temporary as virtual machine will most likely be moved to NAS (which will be added to AD). This gives a nice setup keeping redundancy. – MadBoy Jul 27 '12 at 22:06

Direct questions are much more better then open ended questions. Many people will have many different ways they would setup their environment.

As much as i agree with the comment by HopelessN00b, here are just a few pointers.

  • Place Schema Master and Domain Naming Master on AD1, place PDC, RID and Infrastructure Master on AD2
  • GC on both DC servers will enhance logon times, so that’s always a plus
  • For Exchange, you would only require as stated the Mailbox Server, Hub Transport, Client Access. Edge Transport is designed to work within DMZ, if you have one, use it. HT do not function within DMZ.
  • I also think, as a precaution, you should set up a second HT on another server to improve fail-over and resilience into the system
  • You need to consider where the mailbox storage (and general storage) will be and what level of failover/ HA you want
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My recommendation would be to set up three servers as virtual server hosts (either using Hyper-V or VMware - VMware if the servers have different hardware). You'll need some shared storage for this to work best, but you could possibly put the other two servers to this purpose, giving you a high level of redundancy.

With a virtualised infrastructure you have a great deal of flexibility of how you set up your servers, allowing you to start small and add extra servers should you need to, all without having to add new physical hardware. Your virtualisation management software will allow you to see how much of the total resources are in use, which might mean you can take a virtual host out of the infrastructure.

Virtualisation also buys you redundancy without needing extra Windows servers - for example, a single AD server on a 3 host virtual platform is redundant against hardware failure. You might add a second AD server for other reasons (maintenance redundancy, or load balancing for example).

The hardware you mention would be able to support 2 Exchange Servers and 2 AD servers on 3 nodes, with plenty of space for other virtual servers too.

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