Q

Clustered connector issues in Exchange and Windows 2003

Expert Peter terSteeg offers his advice on migrating and clustering Microsoft Exchange and Windows Server 2003.

We are in the progress of migrating 10 Exchange 5.5 servers to a Windows 2003 cluster. (Four active nodes, two primary passive and one secondary passive.)

We are also planning for our bridgehead servers to be clustered. We have two bridgeheads that both have the following connectors installed:

  • X.400 to the 30 remote branch offices using Exchange SMTP to accommodate Internet e-mail
  • Lotus Notes connector for address book replication and mail flow
  • Lotus Notes Calendar connector to synchronize and schedule free busy information

Do all of these connectors support a clustered setup?

We have a Notes connector set up on the Exchange system that we need to maintain. We have 10,000 Exchange users and 20,000 Lotus Notes users currently; migrating one of the systems is not an option as of now.

Will all our customized AMAP.TBL files from the Notes connector work with Active Directory? We also have custom attributes renamed to Employee-ID to accommodate these. How will Active Directory handle this, and do I need to extend the scheme for these modified custom attributes in order to make them work?

My second question is about our 30 connected branch offices, all with their own Exchange site. Can they stay connected to our main hub site by their current X.400 connectors? Does Site Replication Service handle all this for us, or do we need to stay in mixed Exchange mode on the main hub site before the complete organization has been migrated?

Do all of these connectors support a clustered setup?

It wouldn't make me comfortable. Why couldn't you just deploy two front-end servers, both standalone? That offers the redundancy and reliability, without clustering. You are just protecting for a motherboard failure with a front-end server. And if you have two, what is the difference? It's not that I'm not a fan of clustering, but I would be concerned if future product roadmaps are going to support clustered connectors.

How will Active Directory handle this, and do I need to extend the scheme for these modified custom attributes in order to make them work?

I would imagine changing the display name of the corresponding extension attribute will just be cosmetic.

Does Site Replication Service handle all this for us or do we need to stay in mixed Exchange mode on the main hub site before the complete organization has been migrated?

If you are in mixed mode, the 30 sites will appear as 30 administrative groups. The default mail protocol in Exchange 2003 is SMTP. You would need to make a decision as an organization to stay mixed mode, or convert to native mode -- this isn't a site by site decision.


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This was first published in November 2005

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