Managing High Availability with the EAC


You may have seen the introduction to the new Exchange Administration Center (EAC). The EAC is a unified Web-based portal for both on-premises and online Exchange deployments. Managing high availability (HA) is one of the key scenarios for on-premises customers, and the EAC delivers a brand new experience of managing HA. With EAC, the HA management tools are put together with a new modern look and feel.

Managing Exchange HA involves different operations like database switchovers, server switchovers, adding database copies, reseeding, etc. In previous versions of Exchange, there were UI gaps in the management consoles that required you to use both the console and the shell for some management tasks. For example, configuring lagged database copies. In previous versions of Exchange, you had to create a lagged database copy using the shell. In Exchange 2013, you can do this using EAC.

When you use the EAC to manage an on-premises environment, you will see a feature pane called “Servers.” This is where the Mailbox server-related HA features are managed. An example of this is shown below in Figure 1.

20121002-151313
Figure 1. Where to Manage HA with the EAC

In this feature area, you will see 5 tabs (servers, databases, database availability groups, virtual directories, and certificates). The first 3 tabs are used to manage mailbox server-related HA features.

Database Availability Group creation and configuration

Let’s start by setting up a new DAG. As shown in the figure below, you can quickly create a DAG using the EAC.

20121002-151425
Figure 2: new Database Availability Group

Then you can add Mailbox servers to the DAG, as shown in Figure 3.

20121002-151528
Figure 3: managing DAG membership

Database and database copies management

Now it’s time for you to switch to database management to configure mailbox databases and deploy database copies on DAG members.

Continuing from where we left off, we switch to the databases tab. As you can see, there is an option called “Add database copy”, as shown in the figure below.

20121002-151638
Figure 4: add mailbox database copies

All database copies are shown in the database details pane, as shown in Figure 5.

20121002-151809
Figure 5: database copies in details pane

By drilling down to the mailbox database details pane, you can see the status of the selected database and its copies. You can also see important information like copy queue length and content index state. For the passive copies, you can do different operations like suspend and activate based on their current status.

After you have created database copies for a database, you can easily switch to the other databases from the main database list view to create copies of them. As you see, admins can manage database and database copies in one view without switching to another UI. Very handy and straightforward!

Server Switchovers

As mentioned before, besides managing HA at the database level, you can also perform switchovers at the server level. The EAC provides a more comprehensive way of managing servers.

For example, for a variety of reasons, you may need to take some a DAG member offline. The first step in doing this will always be to perform a server switchover; that is, to move all of the active copies currently hosted on that server to other DAG members, as shown below.

20121002-151930
Figure 6: Server Switchover

As with Exchange 2010, when performing a switchover, you can specify the switchover target or perform a targetless switchover, as shown below Figure 7.

20121002-152025
Figure 7: Two choices for Server Switchover

Conclusion

The handy and improved UI brings you a brand new experience in managing HA in the EAC. You don’t need to toggle between console and shell anymore. And more importantly, you can easily access it from anywhere.

Go and try it out, we are looking forward to hearing from you!

Bin Sun

Comments (8)
  1. Hakim Taoussi says:

    Nice !

  2. hager@chello.at says:

    Sorry, but i hate it.

    Its so ugly, i want my mmc-snap in back!

    The EAC give me feeling  like configuring a cheap 20 USD router…

  3. MSExchanger says:

    Good article, I think the move to web-based administration is better than EMC, as EMC had problems like startup issues and cross-forest administrations scenarios.

  4. Gengaiyan_1 says:

    I have installed Exchange 2013 and working, it has nice features.

    Thanks for given more info about HA.

  5. fred says:

    Looks great & very clean.

    Great job guys :-)

  6. Jason R says:

    Meh, I really don't like ever growing trend to make everything web based.  The excuse is always "you can use it from anywhere", but I've never has an issue where I couldn't access my PC or the server to access the EMC.  Web based interfaces are ALWAYS slower and clunkier to use and navigate than their thick client based counterparts. Am I the only one that misses the exchange 2003 and prior behavior where all mailbox attributes could be handled from the user object?

    Also, enough with making administrator facing interfaces "pretty". Pretty is just a distraction and has zero benefit to an admin who is just looking to get the job done as quickly as possible.  Focusing on clean and simple should be the priority.  If Windows 2012 had all its native features along with the Windows 2000 server GUI, I would be in heaven.

  7. DavidJCarr says:

    It looks very pretty but will it be fast and reliable for multiple administrators?

  8. Hawari says:

    Great

Comments are closed.