2010 has arrived with a bang. While most of South Africa are preparing for the World Cup and concentrating on this year only, Techtron Computers are planning their technology for the next few years. With the start of a new decade the inevitable change of technology has occurred. According to Gartner by the close of 2012, more than 50% of enterprise data center workloads will be virtualized. With this in mind Techtron Computers faced the challenge of virtualizing their internal environment, consolidating their hardware and ultimately reducing their IT costs while still providing for disaster recovery to eliminate unnecessary downtime.
Techtron had various physical servers running various applications. Some of the servers included a Microsoft Domain Controller (with AD), Microsoft Exchange server 2007, Anti-Virus Server, Blackberry Server and a Tiger CRM Server. All these servers were running on different physical hardware with different specs and none of which had a full Disaster Recovery solution apart from regular backups using no other than our very own backup software.
Based on the desire to put all of these servers in a virtual environment we looked at the specs required for these servers and purchased a new server to meet these requirements.
Citrix Xen Server was the platform of choice for this virtualization exercise and all servers are now running on one physical server with one of our older servers available as a failover with regular snapshots of the primary servers stored on separate SAN in order to cater for disaster recovery and high availability.
The change to virtualization has also lead the way to the upgrade to Microsoft Exchange 2010. Microsoft released Exchange Server 2010 in October 2009, and this new version of Exchange Server contains a lot of compelling new features such as the new High Availability, the facility to store your Exchange databases on JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks), the archiving option and the new Outlook Web App and the new Windows Mobile 6.5 and its new mail client.
Microsoft lists the benefits of Exchange 2010 as follows:
- Reduced deployments Cost
- Simplified high availability and disaster recovery
- Easier administration and decreased dependence on the help desk
- Greater mobility and flexible access
- Decreased inbox overload and increased productivity
- Transformed voice mail
- Simplified compliance
- Safeguards for sensitive information
- Reduced risk of malware and spam
The most noticeable improvements comes from the Management Tools which provide the following:
- Role-based access control.
- Exchange control panel.
- Distribution group management.
- Moderated distribution groups.
- Message tracking.
- Database Availability groups.
- Corporate policies.
Tips and Tricks for the IT Professionals:
- Make sure you have the latest version of software and all the necessary required applications: ie: Powershell and .Net Framework (latest version of both)
- Currently there is a “snag” with the export/import mailbox function which means in order to export to or import from a pst-file, the 64-bit version of Outlook 2010 or later must be running on the server to which you are connecting
- Blackberry 5.1 works with Exchange 2010 as long as the correct roles and send-as permissions are configured
- Make sure the following Windows Updates are installed.
a. KB951725 – MMC Context Help Extension
b. KB950888 – RMS Client Sessions for a single user
c. KB9581178 – RPC RDR Interface for load balancing
- If using a multi-name certificate make sure the first registered name of the SSL is the same as your external exchange server name
The next stage of the Techtron Computers infrastructure upgrade will be virtual desktops. Allowing us to access our desktops from anywhere in the world through any supported device (ie: Pcs, laptops, Macs, Mobile phones, IPads).