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EDIT: This post was updated on 4/29/2008 to add more detail about the Exchange-aware backup on next version of SBS.
In a previous blog post, we wrote about the various versions of Exchange Server and their support for Windows Server 2008. Now that Windows Server 2008 has released to manufacturing, we wanted to briefly discuss some specific issues that you might encounter as you deploy Windows Server 2008 in your environment, particularly if you're planning on running Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1) on Windows Server 2008.
Exchange 2007 SP1 is the only version of Exchange Server that is supported for installation on Windows Server 2008. Now that Windows Server 2008 has RTM'd, Exchange 2007 SP1 is fully supported on Windows Server 2008 in production environments. No other version of Exchange Server, including the released to manufacturing version of Exchange 2007, is supported on Windows Server 2008.
As stated in the blog, Mission Impossible: In-Place Upgrading Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, you cannot upgrade the operating system in-place while Exchange 2007 (RTM or SP1) is installed. Thus, the only way to run Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008 is to do a fresh install of Windows 2008 and then install Exchange 2007 SP1.
Windows Server 2008 Improvements that Benefit Exchange
Windows Server 2008 includes a number of improvements and enhancements that can directly benefit servers running Exchange 2007 SP1. There are many benefits to running Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008. Just to name a few:
For more information about the many other changes in Windows Server 2008, including several other changes which can benefit Exchange environments, see Changes in Functionality from Windows Server 2003 with SP1 to Windows Server 2008.
Windows Server 2008 is an excellent platform for Exchange 2007 SP1, but if you're using, or planning to use, Windows Server 2008 as the operating system for your servers running Exchange 2007 SP1, please be aware of the following issues.
In-Place Upgrade of Operating System
As previously mentioned, you cannot perform an in-place upgrade from Windows 2003 to Windows 2008 when Exchange 2007 RTM or Exchange 2007 SP1 is installed. You must first uninstall Exchange, Windows PowerShell and other components (assuming the system is a standalone server and not clustered), and then upgrade the operating system, or you must perform a migration by using the Move-Mailbox functions or database portability to migrate from your existing server to a new server.
Exchange-Aware Backups on Windows Server 2008
Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows Server 2008 does not include a backup utility that supports the Exchange ESE streaming backup APIs. The Windows 2008 backup application, Windows Server Backup, cannot be used to take backups of Exchange. NOTE: For customers running the upcoming version of Windows Small Business Server 2008, Windows Server Backup will be able to take Exchange-aware backups.
Exchange still includes the ESE streaming backup APIs, but the absence of an Exchange-aware backup application in Windows may come as a surprise to many. Another change we made that may also affect you is the removal of remote streaming backup support on Windows 2008.
This leaves you with two choices for taking Exchange-aware online backups when running Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows 2008:
Read-Only Active Directory Servers
Windows Server 2008 introduces the concept of read-only domain controllers (RODCs) and read-only global catalog servers (ROGCs). RODCs and ROGCs provide a way to deploy an Active Directory directory server more securely in locations that require fast and reliable authentication services but cannot ensure physical security for a writable domain controller. For more information about RODCs, see AD DS: Read-Only Domain Controllers.
No version of Microsoft Exchange uses read-only domain controllers or read-only global catalog servers because all versions of Exchange require the ability to write configuration information to Active Directory. Microsoft Exchange works in environments that include read-only domain controllers or read-only global catalog servers, as long as there are writeable domain controllers available. Exchange 2007 effectively ignores read-only domain controllers and read-only global catalog servers, and Exchange 2007 requires a writable directory server in the Active Directory Site containing Exchange 2007 servers or users.
Cross-Operating System Feature Support
Some Exchange 2007 SP1 features require the same operating system in order to use them. For example, Standby Continuous Replication (SCR), a new type of log shipping in SP1 that can replicate data from a source to multiple targets, requires that the source and all targets run the same operating system. This means that you cannot have a source running Windows Server 2003 that replicates to a target running Windows Server 2008.
Another example is management of cluster continuous replication environments and single copy clusters. Windows Server 2008 represents a clean break from the Cluster APIs included in earlier versions of Windows Server. Because the Cluster service does not allow you to use the cluster management tools for remote administration of failover clusters across different operating systems, you cannot use the Exchange management tools for remote administration of failover clusters across different operating systems.
Meeting the Prerequisites
Once you're ready to deploy Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008, you'll want to first make sure you've met all of the necessary pre-requisites. One important pre-requisite to keep in mind is the installation option for Windows Server 2008. I am referring to the "Server Core" installation option and the "Full" installation option for Windows Server 2008.
Windows Installation Options and Exchange Server 2007 SP1
The Server Core installation option is a new for Windows Server 2008. A Server Core installation provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles that reduces the maintenance and management requirements and the attack surface for those server roles. To provide this minimal environment, a Server Core installation installs only the subset of the binaries that are required by the supported server roles.
As you probably already know, Exchange 2007 is the first application that leverages and integrates with the Windows PowerShell. As you may also already know, much of Exchange 2007 is written in managed code that uses the .NET Framework. Neither Windows PowerShell, nor the .NET Framework can be installed on the Server Core version of Windows Server 2008. As a result, the Server Core version of Windows Server 2008 cannot be used to host Exchange 2007 SP1. Instead, you must use the Full Version installation option.
After you've installed Windows Server 2008, you must install other prerequisites before you can install Exchange 2007 SP1. Instructions for installing these prerequisites can be found here.
One known Exchange-related incompatibility with Windows Server 2008 is the downloadable Messaging API Client and Collaboration Data Objects 1.2.1 package. Currently this tools package operates on Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP. We're working on validating these tools against Windows Server 2008 and expect to have an updated version released.
Migrating to Windows Server 2008
Our official guidance and procedures for migrating Exchange 2007 from the Windows Server 2003 operating system to the Windows Server 2008 operating system can be found in this month's Exchange Server TechCenter Feature Article, Migrating Exchange 2007 on Windows Server 2003 to Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008.
For More Information
- Scott Schnoll