Editor’s note: The following post was written by Exchange Server MVP Prabhat Nigam
Exchange 2013 SP1 – way to go Windows 2012 R2
On Feb 25, 2014 Microsoft released Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1. This was a big day for Microsoft as the release of Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 made it possible to use Windows 2012 R2 for Exchange 2013. Microsoft also released Exchange 2010 service pack 3 Rollup update 5 and Exchange 2007 Service pack 3 Rollup Update 13 so that Exchange 2010 and 2007 can be installed on Windows 2012 R2 Active Directory environment.
Current Exchange 2013 users can upgrade to Exchange 2013 SP1 but windows 2012 in place upgrade is not supported so you can’t use the Windows 2012 R2.
Windows 2012 R2 has some great new features. Windows 2012 R2 new features can be checked here.
The 1st feature which will smile you is the “Start button” is back, with many functions possible through right click on it which will make things easier.
Hyper-V has improved and is considered best virtualization software in today’s era. Smart Paging and Online Disk size editing are 2 of the great features.
Online Disk size change: Now we can change the disk size even if a VM is in use and production. This can be done by simple 3 steps. Edit disk in Hyper-V Manager, edit the size of the vhdx file and extend thevolume. Earlier we were required to shut down the VMs. This is an awesome change! Another factor to make which will simplify things for system administrators.
Smart Paging: In the dynamic memory allocation the following 3 configurations will allow your servers to start even if the memory is not enough to run them.
Minimum RAM – The minimum amount of RAM that a VM requires in order to work.
Startup RAM – The amount of RAM required during boot. This may well be higher than the minimum and increasing this will ensure a VM boots faster.
Maximum RAM – The maximum amount of RAM a VM requires in order to work.
I have highlighted few new features of Hyper-V on my blog here.
“Windows Server 2012 R2 forest functional level” is only going to work for Exchange 2013 SP1 and Exchange 2010 SP3 RU5. So Exchange 2007 customers can’t use “Windows Server 2012 R2 forest functional level”
Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 is a cumulative update 4 and will do the schema update similar to previous cumulative updates. So be prepared for the schema update. That being said, the next Exchange 2013 update will be cumulative update 5.
Exchange 2013 SP 1 installation steps are described here.
Release of Exchange 2013 SP1 brings us many new features to use. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Windows Server 2012 R2 is now a supported operating system in Exchange 2013 if we use Exchange 2013 SP1. This means to many that Windows 2012 R2 will be helpful to those who are planning for Exchange 2013 SP1. We can also use Windows 2012 R2 domain controllers and forest. Check the Exchange matrix here.
2. Edge Transport role is back with Exchange 2013 SP1. Edge transport has been used for 2 purposes: one for the spam filtering and second for SMTP relay. So if you used EDGE Transport for the messaging security then you should plan to move to exchange 2013 Edge Transport.
3. Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension for message signing and encryption is back. So anyone holding out on migration because of this feature can start the migration.
4. MAPI over HTTP: Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) over HTTP is a new protocol to connect Outlook. It improves the reliability and stability in connection by moving the transport layer tothe HTTP model. If the Outlook connection breaks this will reconnect the session faster because of TCP connection. One needs to run Exchange 2013 SP1 and Outlook 2013 SP1 to use this feature. By defaultthis feature is disabled. If you don’t want to use this feature then you can still use Outlook Anywhere or enable both of them and if some clients are not yet running Outlook 2013 SP1, they can connect usingOutlook Anywhere. This is an organization – wide feature which can be enabled for whole organization and not per server. To enable this protocol run the below command:
Set-OrganizationConfig -MapiHttpEnabled $true
At the same time we might need to check registry key mentioned in this article
5. Data Loss Prevention policy tips will be showing up in Desktop and mobile Outlook Web App as well.
6. Document Fingerprinting: Document Fingerprinting is a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature that converts a standard form into a sensitive information type, which you can use to define transport rules and DLP policies.
7. Secure Socket Layer Offloading is now being supported. With the help of this feature we can use hardware load balancer for SSL offloading rather than offloading on Client access which uses serverresources.
8. Exchange 2013 SP1 is going to support Hybrid deployments with multiple active directory forest which is having Exchange servers in different Active Directory forests.
9. Exchange Admin Center Cmdlet Logging: In the Exchange Admin Center up to the last 500 executed commands will be captured for later review if we enable cmdlet logging feature of SP1. Logging will stopif we will close the window.
10. Database Availability Group without an administrative access point:
- This is one of the best features which will allow a database availability group (DAG) to run without cluster IP, name and cluster name object (CNO). So this means:
- No DAG IP
- No DAG Cluster Name
- No Cluster Name Object (CNO)
- No DNS Entry
- In the IP address 255.255.255.255 will be used to fill the property because IP address property is required.
- Exchange has changed and started managing cluster information and uses the configuration from the “configuration container in active directory” rather using local clustered data.
- We can still create a traditional DAG. Transition from traditional DAG to DAG without an administrative access point is not supported and there is no way to transition except creating new DAG and moving mailboxes.
- We are using windows 2012 R2 Active Directory-detached cluster feature mentioned here where in place of dns we are giving none.
- In a multi – Datacenter expanded DAG we don’t need to assign any DAG IP. This is not only saving the IPs but also reduces the effort and false positive that the 2nd Datacenter IP is not online in SCOM.
- We can only manage this DAG from Exchange management shell or Exchange Admin Center. New DAG can’t be managed from Failover Cluster Manager because it does not have Cluster name object.
- We need to use windows 2012 R2 with Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 to create a Database Availability Group without an administrative access point.
- The network team does not need to worry about the 2nd datacenter IP which will not be responding. We don’t need to look for a free IP address in every datacenter.
- The following command will create the new DAG in Exchange management shell:
New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup -Name DAGName -DatabaseAvailabilityGroupIPAddresses ([System.Net.IPAddress]::None) -WitnessServer WitnessServerName –WitnessDirectory “Path of witness Directory”
- In Exchange Admin Center we can create the DAG and in place of IP we need to give 255.255.255.255.
With all this added functionality Exchange Administrators should consider Exchange 2013 SP1 on Windows 2012 R2 to take full advantage of these great new features!
About the author
Prabhat has an MBA in Information Technology and is working as Microsoft Architect where he helps in designing, implementing and managing solutions of private messaging cloud, mergers, collaboration between different messaging software and other migration & deployment projects. He also manages the Presales Exchange and Directory services for his company. Recently he was involved in a EOP migration for over 250,000 user base customer and has worked on many private cloud and Exchange migration projects. Prabhat has worked for many IT giants where he has lead the Global team for Exchange and Active Directory. Beginning his career as Technical Consultant in Exchange 5.5 with Microsoft PSS, his love for Exchange never stopped & continued with 2000/2003/2007/2010/2013. In 2013 Microsoft awarded him Most Valuable Professional Award (MVP) for his expertise in Exchange Server. He manages the website and blog – MSExchangeGuru.com (Learn Exchange The Guru Way), LinkedIn Groups "Microsoft Exchange Server" and "Microsoft Exchange Server 2013". Prabhat often responds to queries on TechNet forum, linkedin and on his blog. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter, linkedin and youtube.
About MVP Monday
The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.