Exchange DR suggestions?

Soldato
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Running an Exchange 2003 environment, two servers, two blades.

What would be the best method to replicate this to DR, we currently have offline replica servers which I detest, is there any option in 2003 for 'hot spares' that can sit there ready to take the fall?

I'd rather not use clustering (it's a flakey system on Blades) and/or third part apps (unless they are free/cheap).

Suggestions would be appreciated. :)
 
Caporegime
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Wait for 2010 IMO. 2007 CCR mailbox servers are still based on windows failover clustering, whereas 2010 is based on DAG groupings at organization level.
 
Soldato
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We're a financial institution, the problem is we can't wait. We need a proper working DR solution for this yesterday.

They want to test DR of Exchange in a few weeks but I believe booting up servers that have been off for so long is just asking for trouble.
 
Man of Honour
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Looked into virtualization?

No! Don't look into virtualisation because you don't have a better idea what to do, look into virtualisation if it actually makes sense for your business.

Look into Doubletake or similar products - it's not free or even cheap but it does work when set up right. Or look into clustering, again it works when set up right. Don't try and do DR on the cheap, your business could well depend on it so it's a stupid thing to cut corners on.
 
Soldato
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I didn't say do DR on a cheap, nor did I say do it quickly and bodge it.

Merely suggesting it as a method of DR. It may improve other aspects of their setup, killing two birds with one stone etc... might also buy them some additional time.

PS I may or may not have missed the "unless they are free/cheap" part .... :D
 
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Soldato
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To be honest our DR centre is 20+ racks of idle kit, it's hardly penny pinching or cost cutting. It's probably miles better than most companies live datacentres!

However with the current 'credit crunch' the heads are looking to cut costs wherever possible.

We have a large VMware setup AND we use DoubleTake for SQL servers.

Not sure how Virtualizing Exchange will work because we still can't just 'roll over' to those servers because the names, addresses etc will be different.

Why didn't MSoft build in a failover platform or process for Exchange, it's a business critical area?

Is there anyway to add 'blank' or front end Exchange servers to the current domain, have them located at DR and 'simply' transfer mailstores to them in a DR situation or will this cause problems because the servers have different names?
 
Soldato
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Can anyone forsee any problems bringing the cold spare servers online, patching them, taking the live servers offline and then restored MBX stores to the cold now live server?

The cold spares are named exactly the same, we'd just have to updated DNS and WINS by hand.

Oh and there are firewall rules already in place for these boxes.
 
Soldato
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Can anyone forsee any problems bringing the cold spare servers online, patching them, taking the live servers offline and then restored MBX stores to the cold now live server?

Are you having a "cold" spare to save on licensing costs? In 2007 you can restore a database to a different server in the organisation.
 
Soldato
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When we did this for Exchange 2003 we had a two node cluster on the live site using a Netapp device for the data storage, the Netapp replicated all the data at frequent intervals to the backup site where we have a standy single node cluster. In the event of a DR we just recreated the cluster resources on the standby cluster and updated DNS as all the important information for the live server is in AD.
 
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