Windows 2008 – Exchange 2007 SP1 – Alternate Cluster Setup

The official TechNet documentation for establishing a Windows 2008 / Exchange 2007 SP1 cluster can be found at: 

What I want to do in this blog post is outline an alternate method for installing the cluster different from the instructions referenced above for Windows 2003 clustered nodes.

The first recommendation that I make when establishing the cluster service is to not use the GUI mode setup included with Exchange 2007.  My main rational for this advice is that when GUI mode setup fails you generally have to revert to command line setup to correct conditions and repeat the setup operations.  With this in mind it’s much easier to start with the command line setup and continue through.

In each of the links above you will see that the basic structure of a command line setup for the active roles installation is: /mode:install /roles:mailbox /newCMS /cmsName /cmsIPAddress [/css] [/cmsDataPath]

The passive role installation is: /mode:install /roles:mailbox

The way to think about the active role command is the combination of the passive role ( /mode:install /roles:mailbox) with the establishment of the clustered services ( /newCMS /cmsName /cmsIPAddress [/css] [/cmsDataPath]).

These commands do not have to be run together.  With this in mind my second recommendation is to establish the passive role first on each clustered node.  I recommend this for a few reasons:

  • By separating the commands we can identify failures and address them easier.
  • This method uses a foundational approach whereby the nodes are established and the cluster services verified, the mailbox roles established and verified, and only after that the clustered instance established and verified.
  • When the commands are combined, and the failure occurs in the /newCMS portion of the command, further setup attempts using the same command error indicating the mailbox roles is currently installed and must be uninstalled.  Although the error is true, uninstalling the mailbox role and rerunning the same command without correcting the conditions that failed the cluster portion of setup will generally result is hitting the same error again (and thus the loop continues).
  • In a shared storage environment the restart of the clustered services during mailbox role installation causes storage to move between nodes.  Setup attempts to move this storage back, but is sometimes not successful in doing so.  This causes the /newCMS portion of the setup command to fail, and thus the active role command to fail.  Separating the commands allows us to establish storage and arbitrate it to the “active” node for setup operations after the mailbox role has been installed.
  • A setup code error exists where when an existing CMS exists in a cluster, and the passive node installation is run, the passive nodes machine account is promoted to full control permissions of the CMS.  This results in errors in the management console and management shell that an account was found with full administrator rights that is not an Exchange administrator.  (Note:  The error is truly benign, I just point it out because it is annoying.)

Now I will outline for you the steps that I use when establishing a Windows 2008 / Exchange 2007 SP1 Cluster.  Please refer to these additional blog posts for some other helpful information regarding these installations:

In all instructions below the assumption is that the cluster service and appropriate quorum type have been established and fully configured.  The instructions also outline only the establishment of the Exchange resources, the TechNet documentation referenced above should be used to establish the specific cluster service requirements and other installation / management tasks for an Exchange 2007 SP1 clustered installation on Windows 2008.


Windows 2008 / Exchange 2007 SP1 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR)

  • On each node, run /mode:install /roles:mailbox.
    • This will establish the “passive” installation.
    • A reboot will be required post installation.
    • The installation command when run on a machine where the clustered service is configured and running simply installs the Exchange binaries to the local machine.
  • Install the appropriate Exchange 2007 SP1 rollup update for your organization.
  • On the “active” node, run /newCMS /cmsName:<NAME> /cmsIPv4Addresses:<IPAddress>,<IPAddress>
    • This will establish the “active” installation.

At this point the replication service will begin copying log files from the new databases created and bring both sides into synchronization.  This completes the setup of a Windows 2008 / Exchange 2007 SP1 CCR cluster.


Windows 2008 / Exchange 2007 SP1 Single Copy Cluster (SCC)

  • After establishing the clustered services any shared storage must be prepared for the Exchange installation.  Consider the following regarding shared storage:
    • In Windows 2008 shared storage found at the time of cluster configuration is now placed into the “Available Storage” group.
    • The “Available Storage” group is actually a hidden group inside of cluster.  (You can see this group by running cluster <clusterFQDN> group from a command line.)
    • Each lettered physical drive and mountpoint found during cluster configuration will be represented in the available storage group by a physical disk resource.
    • Mountpoint physical disk resources are not automatically made dependant on the lettered physical disk resource hosting them.
  • On each node, run /mode:install /roles:mailbox
    • This will establish the “passive” installation.
    • A reboot will be required post installation.
  • Install the appropriate Exchange 2007 SP1 rollup update for your organization.
  • Using the command line, move the available storage group to the node where you will run the “active” installation:
    • Open a command prompt.
    • Run cluster.exe <clusterFQDN> group “Available Storage” /moveto:<NODE>
    • For example, cluster.exe group “Available Storage” /
  • On the “active” node, run:
    • /newCMS /cmsName:<NAME> /cmsIPv4Addresses:<IPAddress>,<IPAddress> /css /cmsDataPath:<Path to folder on shared disk>
    • This will establish the “active” installation storing the initial database and log files on the shared disk path specified in the command.
  • Address the remaining shared storage requirements:
    • Physical disk resources must be moved from the available storage group to the Exchange CMS group created during setup.
    • This can be accomplished by right clicking on the CMS group in cluster administrator and selecting add storage.
    • After the storage is moved, all mountpoint resources should be configured to have a dependency on the lettered physical disk hosting the mountpoint.
    • As outlined in TechNet documentation, the dependencies for the database instances must be configured so that each database is dependant on the physical disks where the files reside.


By using these steps you should hopefully be able to simply your Exchange 2007 SP1 clustered installation on Windows 2008 and more easily address errors that may arise during the clustered setup.

Comments (1)

  1. Andrew says:

    This was a big help for me.

    We were having issues with the “MSExchangeServiceHost” service failing to start. I manually started the service and reran as you described and wa able to get it installed. Then being able to install the cluster role after the fact was a big help.

    This may not be the recommended way but here is how my installs would go in the future:

    So this is how we should do it next time:

    Active and Passive Nodes:

    Run setup.exe, try to install *mailbox* role

    If/when it fails run this:

    C:Windowssystem32>net use y: <install source, if not local>


    Y:>cd softwareexchange2007

    Y:softwareexchange2007> /Mode:Install /roles:mb

    (if this still fails manually start the “MSExchangeServiceHost” service and try again, worked for me)

    Then, after *both*nodes are working run this on the *active* node

    Y:softwareexchange2007> /newcms /cn:<cluster virtual server name> /cip:<active ip>,<passive ip>

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