Step 2: Configuring and replicating Exchange Server NNTP newsfeeds

Learn how to configure, support, and replicate newsfeeds on an Exchange 2003 NNTP virtual server using master, subordinate, and peer servers.

Newsgroup content is almost always replicated to or from another server. If you want to create a standalone newsgroup, you should create an Exchange Server public folder. Because newsgroup content typically is replicated, an Exchange 2003 NNTP virtual server can be assigned one of three roles with respect to the news feed: master, subordinate or peer.

Master NNTP servers

Master NNTP servers are considered authoritative. They maintain the master copy of the newsgroup data and replicate that data to subordinate servers.

Subordinate NNTP servers

Subordinate NNTP servers act as replication partners with master newsfeed servers. Clients typically don't connect to master servers; they usually only connect to subordinate servers. The job of a subordinate server job is to pull newsgroup content from the master server and display it.

If a client posts to a newsgroup, the post is written to the subordinate server connected to the client. The subordinate server then sends a copy of the post to the master. The master server updates with the new information, and sends the post to all other subordinate servers. That way, all network clients will see the new post, no matter to which subordinate they are connected.

Peer NNTP servers

The third role of an Exchange 2003 NNTP virtual server is as a peer. A peer server is configured to exchange newsgroup posts on the Internet. A peer agreement allows a server to pull posts from an Internet-based news server. Depending on the news server's policies, a peer server might also push content to the Internet.

The interesting thing about news server roles is that a single NNTP virtual server can host multiple roles. For example, imagine that your company is headquartered in Miami, with branch offices in Las Vegas and Honolulu. If you discovered a commercial newsgroup that contained information you wanted to distribute throughout your company, typically the IT Department in Miami would have to pay the subscription fee and arrange a peer agreement with the hosting company.

As such, let's assume that you wanted employees to have access to the newsgroup data, but also be able to post to the newsgroup on the Internet. In such a situation, you wouldn't connect each desktop to the Internet-based newsgroup. Instead, you could configure an Exchange server in the Miami office to act as a peer with the Internet-based news server that would then pull content from the Internet-based newsgroup, and push any new posts to the Internet.

To give users access to the newsgroup, you would have to assign a secondary role to the server. Therefore, the server would assume the role of a master news server. This server technically isn't authoritative for the entire newsgroup, but it is authoritative as far as your organization is concerned.

The last step is to create subordinate servers in all three cities. Users will interact directly with these subordinate servers; never with the master. The master server uses its peer role to download content from the Internet-based newsgroup. Subordinate servers are then populated with newsgroup data from the master. Users attach to subordinate servers and read the newsgroup data.

In a separate example, imagine that a user in the Las Vegas office wants to post something to the newsgroup. In this instance, the post is written to the subordinate server in Las Vegas; and the subordinate server pushes the new post to the Miami server. Because this server acts as a master, it pushes a copy of the new post to the server in Honolulu. Keep in mind, though, that the server in Miami is also a peer server; therefore, it pushes a copy of the post to the Internet-based newsgroup's server. That server, in turn, distributes the post to all other peers.

Creating newsfeeds

Feeds are created at the NNTP virtual server level, but a single NNTP virtual server can support multiple feeds. The process of configuring a feed varies, depending on the type you are creating.

  1. Navigate through the Exchange Management Console -> Administrative Groups -> Your administrative group -> Server -> Protocol -> NNTP -> Your NNTP virtual server -> Feeds.

  2. Right click on the Feed container and select New -> Feed command.

  3. Enter the IP address of the news server with which you want to establish the feed.

  4. Click Next and Exchange will ask what type of feed you want to create.

    Figure A
    Figure A. Select the type of feed that you want to create here.

  5. Click Next and you will be asked how you want to exchange news articles. Regardless of the type of feed selected, there will be an Inbound and an Outbound checkbox. There also may be options associated with the Inbound feed. These options are shaded in Figure B.

    Figure B
    Figure B. You must choose an inbound feed, an outbound feed or both.

  6. Click Next and you will be asked which newsgroups the feed should affect. As shown in Figure C, the default value on this screen is an asterisk (*), which means that the feed should apply to all newsgroups. In an actual application, however, there likely will be some newsgroups for which you don't want to enable an outbound feed. If you require different types of feeds for different newsgroups, then you will have to specify newsgroups individually. I recommend not using the asterisks to specify the desired feeds on a peer server because the Internet news server probably hosts more than one newsgroup.

    Figure C
    Figure C. Select which newsgroups the feed will affect.


STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE: CONFIGURE NNTP VIRTUAL SERVERS AND NEWSFEEDS

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Creating Exchange Server NNTP newsgroup hierarchies
 Step 2: Configuring and replicating Exchange Server 2003 NNTP newsfeeds
 Step 3: Managing NNTP newsfeeds and expiration policies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   
Brien M. Posey, MCSE
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at http://www.brienposey.com.
This was first published in October 2007

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