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November 26, 2008

EBS Installation Finalizes Exchange Server Deployment

When installing Exchange Server 2007 as a regular old standalone product, opening the Exchange Management console for the first time presents you with this gem of a task list…

That's why EBS is called a solution, and not a bundle. Because it is a solution, dammit!

There’s quite a bit of stuff on that Finalize Deployment list, some of which is required to actually get your deployment to a point where it can be considered complete AKA functional. Obviously, some of that depends upon the features you want to use. Here’s a TechNet article that talks about these critical post-installation tasks.

You see the same list in Essential Business Server when you open Exchange Management Console. But nearly every item on that list is already handled for you, thanks to the magical world created by Essential Business Server’s Integrated Installation wizards.

In particular, you don’t have to fret about that first item. So don’t waste any of your valuable time looking for an Exchange Server license key to enter. Just like the Prego spaghetti sauce ads say…it’s in there!

|| posted by chris under it pro, mid-market it || comments (1) || ||

November 25, 2008

Will The Real EBS 2008 Exam Please Stand Up?

If you’re trying to book either the EBS 2008 or SBS 2008 exam and get a bit confused when looking at the Prometric registration site, don’t feel bad. Here’s what you’ll see right now:

If you want to take the new SBS exam, you want to choose 70-653!

Word of advice: I always go by exam number, rather than titles, when I’m booking my exams.

Notice how 70–653 and 70–654 both show with the title TS: Windows Essential Business Server 2008, Configuring. Oh yeah…that’s not confusing AT ALL.

Here’s Microsoft Learning’s officially official listing for 70–653:

Again...if you want SBS, you want 70-653! If you want EBS, that's 70-654.

Note the correct title of TS: Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuring for 70–653 here.

And here’s Microsoft Learning’s officially official listing for 70–654:

Yes, this is the exam for EBS. How do I know? Because MS told me so! And don't blame me for the weird text wrapping in the screenshot. That's how it looks on the MSL site as well.

So yes, Virginia…there is a real exam for EBS 2008. And one for SBS 2008 as well.

I’m sure the PTBs will get this fixed ASAP. But if you want to book an exam now, then just remember this…

  • Essential Business Server exam = 70–654
  • Small Business Server exam = 70–653

And good luck on your test!

|| posted by chris under it pro, mid-market it || comments (2) || ||

November 23, 2008

DNS Settings The Essential Business Server Way

As every good admin knows, a healthy DNS infrastructure is the second most-important aspect of a reliable network. Based on my own experience in the field, DNS has to be the least understood, and most commonly misconfigured service, on any given network.

And if DNS is wrong, then that network will have problems. No argument about that.

If your DNS is sick, then your whole network is sick. Even if you don't know it yet!

Since the configuration of EBS is based on the best practices recommended by Microsoft, it stands to reason then that the way EBS configures DNS is a good model, right?

Here are the DNS settings for the internal network adapter of each of the core EBS servers…

  • Management Server (DNS server, domain controller, PDC emulator)
    • DNS1 = (localhost)
  • Messaging Server (DNS server, domain controller)
    • DNS1 = IP address of Management Server
    • DNS2 = IP address of Messaging Server
    • DNS3 = (localhost)
  • Security Server (Edge security)
    • DNS1 = IP address of Management Server
    • DNS2 = IP address of Messaging Server

Yes, the Security Server also has an external adapter. But there shouldn’t be any DNS servers defined on that adapter, since that would kinda defeat the whole purpose of even having a Security Server.

The Management and Messaging servers should be the only ones handling DNS queries in an EBS network. If something isn’t located in their databases, then they should also be the only machines going out and getting the info from the big bad world, using either root hints or forwarders.

Speaking of forwarders, OpenDNS pretty much rocks.

In a semi-related story, anyone able to tell me the most important aspect of a reliable network?

|| posted by chris under it pro, mid-market it, rx || comments (4) || ||

November 19, 2008

Essential Business Server Premium Carries Downgrade Rights

If you find yourself trapped in a labyrinth...keep turning left.

OK, this is something that people have been freaking out about, and with good reason.

Essential Business Server 2008 Premium Edition includes an extra server. As in, an extra license of Windows Server 2008 Standard and a license for SQL Server 2008 Standard. Although this extra server can be used to hold a variety of roles, the general idea is that most people would use it as an application server.

“But what about applications that don’t yet support the 2008 version of Windows Server or SQL Server?” was the hue and cry. And MS hadn’t offered a definitive word on how to address that conundrum.

Today, the Essential Server Solutions team announced that downgrade rights will be included with the Premium Edition of Essential Business Server.

So if compatibility is a concern for you, you’ll definitely want to get aboard the EBS train sooner than later.

Through December 31, 2009, Essential Business Server Premium Edition will ship with Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard and SQL Server 2005 Standard media in-box as part of the product, in addition to the regular 2008 versions mentioned above.

After that, this downgrade offer will only be available via Microsoft’s Solutions Pathway, which right now looks to be only slightly less complicated to navigate than the Minotaur’s infamous crib, the Labyrinth at Knossos.

And yes, all this same stuff goes for Small Business Server 2008 Premium Edition.

|| posted by chris under business, media, mid-market it, migration, rx, thumbs up || comments (1) || ||

November 19, 2008

Change The Login Account Used By SCE On EBS

Domo arigato, Mr. Stanfill!

Thanks to the efforts of Mark “Mr. Roboto” Stanfill, the official Essential Business Server blog just posted arguably its best article to date.

Changing the service account SCE uses from the default of Administrator is prolly one of the first steps that should be taken with every new EBS installation. Mainly because doing that totally avoids the whole “Holy crap my Administrator password was changed and now SCE doesn’t gather data anymore” issue, plus offers a couple of other handy benefits to boot.

I won’t rehash the whole article, but here’s a quick overview of the steps…

  • Create new service account for SCE
  • Assign new service account using SCE
  • Create new SQL account for SCE instance
  • Assign new SQL account using SQL Management Studio Express
  • Restart SQL and SCE services

Trust me…it’s way more involved than that overview might make you think.You’lll want to get the full-on details before you start.

And just like any other major service or data storage change you make post-installation on EBS, completing a replacement mode install will revert the services back to using the Administrator account.

|| posted by chris under it pro, mid-market it, migration, rx || comments (0) || ||

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