A few weeks ago somebody asked me if I have ever made an Exchange server lab. That got me thinking, hmm… “maybe I should write a post about Exchange server” and with the recent release of Exchange server 2016 I decided to make a simple lab to test the mailbox migration from Exchange server 2010 to Exchange server 2016.
This first part will focus on setting up the lab environment. So to start, for my Lab I will be using Windows Azure, initially it will be just one network with 2 VMs with 1 DC and 1 Exchange server 2010. Later another VM for Exchange 2016 will be added.
Registering a DNS Server and Creating a Virtual Network
So let’s start by registering a DNS Server and creating a Virtual Network. To do this open your Azure management Portal (I prefer using the classic portal) and on the left side pane look for and click on Networks (look for this symbol: <∙∙∙> ). On right side you can click on VIRTUAL NETWORKS, LOCAL NETWORKS or DNS SERVERS, to see what you have (if you haven’t created any server yet your list should be empty).
In there, now you can enter a NAME for the DNS server. The name you give to you DNS is not really important, so you can named it whatever you want to, in my lab environment, I will call it “VlabDNS”. The important part is the DNS SERVER IP ADDRESS. I will give the IP 192.168.4.4 to my DNS server. As we will be using a virtual network, we will be configuring our private network IP (in my case I will use “192.168.4 /24”), therefore the DNS IP should be in the same network (192.168.4.4). You might notice that I am choosing the forth address for the DNS server 192.168.4.4, that is because the first three IP Addresses are used for Azure internal purposes. So when you deploy your first Virtual Machine (the Domain Controller in our case) it will get the forth address of your network (192.168.4.4), which would be the same address as our DNS server. To finish click REGISTER DNS SERVER on the bottom right corner.
In the Create a Virtual Network windows that opened, Write the NAME of your Virtual Network (I named it VLabVirtualNet, select the LOCATION, here you should select the location closest to your physical location as this will be the location of the Datacenter where your network will be created. Finally, you can select your Subscription if you have more than one. Then continue to the next page by clicking on the arrow on the lower left.
On the DNS Servers and VPN Connectivity page, select the DNS Server we previously registered and go to next page. (You can leave the Configure a point-to-site VPN and Configure site-to-site VPN options unchecked).
On the Virtual Network Address Spaces page, we will define the address space we wish to use for our network. Usually the default address is set to 10.0.0.0/8, but as I mentioned above I will be using the private network 192.168.4.0/24 for my lab environment. So, select the STARTING IP and the CIDR (ADDRESS COUNT) so that it match with the network for your DNS server, and if you are using the same network address I am using you should modify the subnet’s CIDR as well. When done click the checkmark on the bottom right and wait for the Virtual network to get created.
Creating the Virtual Machines
Now that we have created our Virtual Network, is the time to create the Virtual Machines for our lab. So let’s begin creating our Domain Controller. As you did when creating the Virtual Network, click on the NEW button in the bottom left corner. Then you have to click on COMPUTE, then on VIRTUAL MACHINE and FROM GALLERY.
On the 1st page of Virtual Machine Configuration, write a NAME for the virtual machine, as I want to keep the computer power as low as possible I selected the BASIC TIER, and for the SIZE the A0 (Shared core, 768 MB memory). You should not worry about the specs right now, as it is possible to change the specs of the virtual machine at any time should you need more power.
On the next page of the Virtual Machine Configuration, on CLOUD SERVICE select “Create a new cloud service” as we didn’t create any beforehand. In CLOUD SERVICE DNS NAME write a name for your VM, this is the name through which the VM(s) should be accessed from the Internet.
On SUBSCRIPTION select the same subscription you used to create your Virtual Network.
On REGION/VIRTUAL NETWORK make sure to select the Virtual Network we previously created. And on VIRTUAL NETWORK SUBNETS, select the Subnet we created.
On STORAGE ACCOUNT select Use an automatically generated storage account, since we didn’t create one.
Finally on AVAILABILITY SET select (None) because our lab will have only one DC it won’t need it. An availability set will help to keep your VMs available during downtime. So, by placing two or more similarly configured VMs in an availability set you will create the redundancy needed to maintain availability of the applications or services that your virtual machine runs.
After a few minutes your virtual machine will be created and running. If you switch to Cloud Services (Cloud with two gears) on your Azure Management Portal you will notice that the cloud service you specified when configuring the VM is listed there. Also, if you switch to Storage, the auto-generated storage is listed and also you will notice that the location is set to that of your Virtual Network.
Let us continue by creating the Exchange Virtual Machine. Follow the same steps as before, click on NEW, then click on COMPUTE, then on VIRTUAL MACHINE and FROM GALLERY. Select the Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 image. On the next page, write a NAME for the virtual machine. For the Exchange VM we need more power TIER STANDARD and SIZE A1 (or A2) will work, however it will be slow so while working with the VM (e.g. Exchange installation, configuration, testing, etc.) I use the SIZE A5 and later change it to A2. If you are curious about the pricing you can check it here. Finally write your user name and password (you can use the same you used for your DC), and go to next page.
On the final page just make that the Install the VM Agent checkbox is checked and click the checkmark to create the Virtual Machine.
With the two VMs created we are ready to start out lab. On my next post, we will continue by preparing the VMs, installing Active Directory Domain Services and prepare for the installation of Exchange server 2010.