Tutorial: How to set up a front-end Exchange Server cluster

Front-end Exchange servers can become overloaded if too many users attempt to use Outlook Web Access simultaneously. In this tutorial, I explain how you can configure a Network Load Balancing Service cluster or DNS-based round-robin cluster to distribute the workload across multiple front-end Exchange servers for better performance.

Deploying a normal Exchange Server cluster is complicated and requires specialized hardware. But clustering a front-end Exchange server is fairly simple.

Technically speaking, a front-end server isn't even an Exchange server. It's actually an Internet Information Server hosting Outlook Web Access as a Web application. So, since a front-end Exchange server does not interact directly with the Exchange databases, it doesn't require a disk-sharing solution or any of the complexities normally involved in clustering back-end Exchange servers.



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A lesson in cluster node configuration and consistency
 Pros and cons of a Network Load Balancing Service front-end cluster
 Requirements for a Network Load Balancing Service front-end cluster
 How to set up a Network Load Balancing Service front-end Exchange cluster
 The pros and cons of a DNS-based front-end Exchange cluster
 How to set up a DNS-based front-end Exchange cluster
 Related links from SearchExchange.com

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 April 2006

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