Blog was Down

I am sorry, but this blog, as well as many others hosted on, was down for a considerable amount of time.

I really wasn’t happy about it, but I also really can’t complain because this server is supported by a couple of voluteers, and they do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

I will continue to host my blog here, for now. However, if there are continued issues, I will do my best to move to a new location. In the meantime, keep in mind that I copy many of my posts (not all) to another blog site that I use for personal stuff as well as geek stuff. You can get to it here.

Should I Deploy Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003 for Exchange Server 2007?

This is another question that came up many times during TechEd.

It was usually phrased, “Why would I go with Windows Server 2008 over Windows Server 2003 when deploying my Exchange Server 2007 environment next month?” Sometimes they also threw in that they were going to to CCR.

My point, which actually seemed to please some of the people is that we, as administrators, should try to avoid NT 4.0 situations that we are still paying for today.

What does that mean? Well, think about it, in 2000, we were deploying new servers. The options were to deploy NT 4.0 or Windows 2000. Windows 2000 was still new and there was fear about using it for critical environments. So, NT 4.0 was used. In 2003, the hardware reached the end of its warranty. So, we paid for an extended warranty for a year, or more, until it got too costly. So, last year, we had an OS that was 11 years old running critical systems.

Take it forward today. I deploy a new and extremely critical email environment that is supposed to last me between 4 to 5 years. So, if I use Windows Server 2003, I will find myself running Windows Server 2003 in 2013. Sound familiar?

I am willing to bet you money that not a single person will be wanting to upgrade the OS to Windows Server 2008 when the application and the OS are still working properly. We, as IT people, do not mess with what is working. So, we don’t upgrade and we end up in a bad position where we are way past the end of life on the operating system on a critical server environment. This is especially true if we are deploying a high availability environment to support the application. You don’t mess with it.

I am a big proponent of aligning application and hardware refreshes because it just makes sense. What we end up with is a cycle of every 3-5 years, we replace our out of warranty equipment with new equipment running the latest OS and the latest application version just so that when we hit the end of our planned life cycle, we are not in an unsupported state and trying to remember how to manage an OS and an application that we haven’t touched in years because we are constantly moving forward.

Something else to consider. Let’s say it is the year 2010, and you call Microsoft for support for your Windows Server 2003 environment. Who do you think you will get to help you? Well, the very best people have already moved on to the other teams. They are working on the 2008 platform, or they are working on Win 7 (whatever its real name will be then). The best support guys will not be stuck working on the 2003 team. 

I hope that is enough reason for you to do your best to convince management that it is better to go with Windows Server 2008.

Exchange Server 2007 and Virtualization

During my booth duty at the Failover Clustering booth, I must have heard questions regarding this topic about once per hour if not more.

The official stance: Microsoft does not support the virtualization of Exchange Server 2007 roles at this time. Why not? Well, Microsoft does not have a virtualization platform capable of supporting 64-bit virtual machines at this time. Hyper-V is not an RTM product. Whether Microsoft will change the stance once Hyper-V RTMs is another question, and I don’t have an answer. Also, keep in mind, Microsoft is not about to support a third party’s virtualization platform because they don’t have the control over it to properly support it and fix problems that might be discovered.

My point of view: Why would you ever want to do that anyways? Exchange and SQL are two services that really do require top-notch resources and sharing them on a server with other virtualized servers just seems counter productive to providing the best performance possible for two key business services.

OK, now that I am off my soap box, can you virtualize Exchange Server 2007? Yes, you can. It make perfect sense to me for development and testing environments. It makes perfect sense for a proof of concept, too. It even make perfect sense in small organizations that won’t push their Exchange implementation very hard.

Recently, I worked with a client that has a nice virtualization platform running Hyper-V RC1. They hosted mailbox servers, hub transport servers, and client access servers for their test environment. It ran wonderfully. They are considering doing it when Hyper-V RTMs because their expected load for 35 users isn’t very large. 

UPDATED: Scott Schnoll posted the official stance in his blog post, Exchange Server 2007 and Hyper-V.

Tech-Ed and the High Availability Pre-Conference Session

I have learned over the years that a successful presentation depends on solid planning, good input from many sources, and preparation. So, what do you do when things go wrong despite all prepartions going right?

What do you do when:

  1. Three computers fail during the presentation and one of the three catches fire

  2. The computer used for displaying the PowerPoints reboots five times during the presentation

  3. The rack holding demonstration equipment makes tons of clacking noises as power spikes hit the PDU and force it to reset continuously

  4. The spot lights flicker on and off continuously

  5. There are seven to nine technicians on stage trying to fix everything during the presentation

  6. There are technicians replacing hardware during the presentation

  7. Demos have to be copied multiple times between computers because of hardware failures

Yes, it was challenging. Would you believe that it was still a great deal of fun and everyone that I saw during the rest of TechEd that was in the session said they still learned a great deal of information?

I am shocked that I didn’t burst out in a tirade of obscene statements. [:D]

Somebody asked me if I would do it again knowing that the same circumstances would come up, and I said that I would.

Really, I had a great time, and it appears that the attendees were still happy despite all of the facility issues.