With the release of Exchange 2010 there has been some great advancement with high availability and site resiliency. The traditional methods of disaster recovery are fading away. Modern day high availability capabilities are introducing backup-less strategies. Does that mean we don’t need to know how to get our messaging systems up and running in the event of a large scale major disaster….I think not?!
This thought process all got started when I was working to a recent effort to bring up a lab environment. We didn’t have a lab in any way, but some systems were hosted on VMware’s hypervisor. This included a couple Domain Controllers, but not any Exchange servers (mix of E2K7 & E2K10). Creating a lab that mirrored production from scratch would be quite the undertaking, I mean, we were talking about some 14+ Exchange servers….not fun. Well, to me, that scenario felt a lot like a disaster recovery situation and it got my wheels turning. The use of Exchange’s recovery feature (setup.exe /m:RecoverServer) would allow me to leverage the directory (AD) that could be quickly cloned (thank you virtualization) to the lab. After all, most Exchange configuration information is stored in Active Directory. After building a few virtual machines for Exchange and I should be up and running. I should mention that in this case, I don’t really care about the data, so the only material I really need is a Domain Controller and the Exchange installation media.