Preparing, Installing and Configuring Exchange 2016 with DAG on Windows 2016

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So Exchange 2016 preview version came on MSDN and I decided to give it a try along with the DAG …

Previously in Exchange 2013 I used to have an issue with the fast search on DAG as in some cases it used to stop and cause the original database and copy to report not healthy.

Here I wanted to Install exchange 2016 on new windows edition along with configuring DAG and observe the database’s indexing status.

So to start, I used the available Microsoft Technet related to Exchange 2016.

I’ll launch Powershell as adminsitrator an start by installing the requested software

Install-WindowsFeature RSAT-ADDS

From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb691354%28v=exchg.160%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396>

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Windows 2012/2012R2

Install-WindowsFeature AS-HTTP-Activation, Desktop-Experience, NET-Framework-45-Features, RPC-over-HTTP-proxy, RSAT-Clustering, RSAT-Clustering-CmdInterface, RSAT-Clustering-Mgmt, RSAT-Clustering-PowerShell, Web-Mgmt-Console, WAS-Process-Model, Web-Asp-Net45, Web-Basic-Auth, Web-Client-Auth, Web-Digest-Auth, Web-Dir-Browsing, Web-Dyn-Compression, Web-Http-Errors, Web-Http-Logging, Web-Http-Redirect, Web-Http-Tracing, Web-ISAPI-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Filter, Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console, Web-Metabase, Web-Mgmt-Console, Web-Mgmt-Service, Web-Net-Ext45, Web-Request-Monitor, Web-Server, Web-Stat-Compression, Web-Static-Content, Web-Windows-Auth, Web-WMI, Windows-Identity-Foundation

From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb691354%28v=exchg.160%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396>

Windows 2016 (Windows Server)

Install-WindowsFeature Net-HTTP-Activation, Desktop-Experience, NET-Framework-45-Features, RPC-over-HTTP-proxy, RSAT-Clustering, RSAT-Clustering-CmdInterface, RSAT-Clustering-Mgmt, RSAT-Clustering-PowerShell, Web-Mgmt-Console, WAS-Process-Model, Web-Asp-Net45, Web-Basic-Auth, Web-Client-Auth, Web-Digest-Auth, Web-Dir-Browsing, Web-Dyn-Compression, Web-Http-Errors, Web-Http-Logging, Web-Http-Redirect, Web-Http-Tracing, Web-ISAPI-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Filter, Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console, Web-Metabase, Web-Mgmt-Console, Web-Mgmt-Service, Web-Net-Ext45, Web-Request-Monitor, Web-Server, Web-Stat-Compression, Web-Static-Content, Web-Windows-Auth, Web-WMI, Windows-Identity-Foundation

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1- (Extending Schema)


Setup.exe /PrepareSchema /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb125224(v=exchg.160).aspx#Step1>

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2- (Preparing AD)


Setup.exe /PrepareAD /OrganizationName:”<organization name>” /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb125224(v=exchg.160).aspx#Step1>
Setup.exe /PrepareAD /OrganizationName:TEST /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

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3- Prepare one domain in the forest or all domains


Setup.exe /PrepareDomain:<FQDN of the domain you want to prepare> /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb125224(v=exchg.160).aspx#Step1>

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To prepare all domains run the following cmd
 
Setup.exe /PrepareAllDomains /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms
 
From <https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb125224(v=exchg.160).aspx#Step1>
 
Before moving on you will have to fulfill the Software Prerequisites which is attached below.. It’s the same as in Exchange 2013.
 
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Now I will start the Exchange Installation from the Setup, You can follow the setup till the end as in the following screenshots:
 
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Now I will create DAG and replicate DBs and notice FastSearch logs


Since this is a LAB and I only have 2 nodes (DAG must have an odd number for Failover), so I am going to use the DC server as my FSW (Which is highly not recommended for Production Environment).

In order for the FSW on DC to work, you will have to add your DC to the Exchange Trusted Subsystem group

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Here I added the DC as a member of the group

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Normally file server feature is already added to the server by default, but to make sure I’ll run the following command

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It’s already there

Now I’ll go back to Exchange servers and add a second NIC for Replication..

I usually rename each NIC so I know which is which, the default NIC belongs to the MAPI traffic and the other one is the replication NIC.

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I will configure the Replication NICs on both exchange servers to disable the “Register this connection’s addresses in DNS”

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Checking ping between Exchange servers on the Replication NIC

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Now I will create the CNO Object (Cluster Name Object) in the Active directory for the DAG

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I will disable the object

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Double click on the DAG object and go to Security tab and add Exchange servers

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Now configure the security for the Exchange members to full

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Apply and close…

Now on the DC I will create the FSW’s folder and give it full permission to the Trusted Subsystem group and exchange servers

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Click apply and go back to EAC and I’ll start configuring the DAG

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Microsoft says that one of the enhancements that have been added to Exchange 2016 is that DatabaseAvailabilityGroupIpAddresses is no longer required when creating a DAG.

By default, the failover cluster will be created without an administrative access point, as this is the recommended best practice.

From <http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2015/05/05/exchange-server-2016-architecture.aspx>

So in this case we won’t need to assign any IP address to the DAG…

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I’ll click on save and see what happens

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Navigating to the administrators group on AD, The Exchange subsystem group is not added so I’ll add it.

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Now I will add Exchange servers as members to the DAG

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Upon adding the Exchange members to DAG I got the following error

A server-side database availability group administrative operation failed. Error The operation failed. CreateCluster errors may result from incorrectly configured static addresses. Error: Windows Failover Clustering isn’t installed on ‘EXCH2K16.test.com’.. [Server: EXCH2K16.test.com]
error
A server-side database availability group administrative operation failed. Error The operation failed. CreateCluster errors may result from incorrectly configured static addresses. Error: Windows Failover Clustering isn’t installed on ‘EXCH2k1602.test.com’.. [Server: EXCH2k1602.test.com]

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So I checked the following,
1- Firewall
2- CNO’s security settings.

Error occurs due to firewall being enabled on the DC (Where the FSW is )

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I disabled the firewall and gave full permission to the Exchange trusted system to the DAG object

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After that I signed out of Exchange servers, signed back in.. Deleted DAG and recreated it… that didn’t work either

Tried using Exchange management shell but it didn’t work too

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Checking the log coming in the description, I find out the log is complaining about not finding DAG while trying to resolve it.

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Also the log says that it has installed Failover cluste rbut still the cluster can’t find FQDN called DAG.

So I will have to configure DAG in the dns and give it an IP of my first Exchange server

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Checking DAG resolving from Exchange server

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As the log says, restart is required after installing failover cluster so I’ll restart Exchange servers and then retry to add Exchange servers to the dag.

After restarting the server, It seems that things are working

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The second server gave the following error


The Microsoft Exchange Replication service does not appear to be running on “EXCH2k1602”. Make sure that the server is operating, and that the services can be queried remotely.

Apparently the error is correct, After restarting the server it turned out that most of the second Exchange server’s services were not working..

To be honest I didn’t ask myself why did not the services started since I am using a preview version of Exchange 2016 and Windows as well so I manually started all the services.

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Interestingly while checking services, I noticed new services e.g. (DAG Management, Compliance Audit, Notifications broker)

After starting the services, now I tried to add the second server again to the DAG.

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So eventually, DAG doesn’t need an IP address but still a DNS value needs to be created for the NCO object and needs to have an IP assigned to it which will be the Exchange server IP address..

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Next: I will add a database copy and see how it’s improved and do I need to restart the IS service as in Exchange 2013.

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I will leave all the default values and add the second server for the database to be copied on. Unlike Exchange 2013 in most of the times the database would fail first and gives an error ..

In 2016 it starts directly seeding the database to the second Exchange server that’s member of the DAG.

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On the second Server where the database has been copied to, I checked the Logs and Fastsearch was throwing errors as usual since database logs are not copied … as soon as the database logs finished copying the fastsearch will return ok and the database will appear as Healthy in EAC.
 
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Fastsearch finally reported that indexing started on the newly copied DB.

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The database copy should now report healthy in the EAC.
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Hope you find this useful.
In the next article I will publish the Exchange server online to check the rest of the functionalities.

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2 thoughts on “Preparing, Installing and Configuring Exchange 2016 with DAG on Windows 2016

  1. I have DAG running on Server 2012 with 2 EX 2013. How can, I introduce 2016 into my home lab environment. I have read that EX 2013 and EX 2016 can co exist but how in the form of a DAG is what, I don't know how to deploy.

    I read your article which is a new DAG setup fully on Server 2016 with EX 2016. Pretty good details for anybody starting with a new DAG setup.

    Look forward to your response on the above and new article on EX 2016.

    Ram

  2. Hi Ram, Do you want to upgrade your Exchange 2013 DAG servers to 2016? In this case you'll have to remove DAG members from the DAG one by one and upgrade each server on its own to 2016 and when you finally have upgraded both servers to 2016 then you can re-create the DAG.

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