Exchange 2003 Front-end design

  • From: Chris Wall <Chris.Wall@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'[ExchangeList]'" <exchangelist@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 23:53:11 -0500

Currently trying to decide on the best Front-end deployment of Exchange 2003
for our organization...


I am leaning towards using windows 2003 server NLB (network load balancing)
on 3 servers in our DMZ.  These three servers will all perform SMTP Gateway,
OWA with SSL, RPC over HTTPS duties and each will have GFI Mail Security and
Mail Essentials running on them...  These servers will not be clustered - at
least they will not share an external NAS or SAN device for storage.  They
will rely on their own disk stores individually.


A little info about our domain..

- I am estimating no more than 50 to 75 OWA users at any time.  RPC over
HTTPS will be used sporatically at best.  We receive on average 4 million
e-mails per month, 85% of which is marked as SPAM.  I expect this number to
drop drastically when GFI is installed on the Exchange 2003 FE servers and
can reject emails destined for non-existent e-mail addresses on our domain.



My Questions/concerns are:


1.      Is this too much load on these servers?  (SSL encryption for OWA and
RPC, SPAM/Viral filtering, as well as SMTP delivery) 

      2.   Has anyone implemented NLB on their front end servers?  If so,
can you provide any Pros/Cons?

3.      Will I have SSL Certificate issues with NLB on FE servers?
4.      How are the OWA and RPC sessions handled? In other words, if a user
connects to OWA in the NLB environment, will Windows NLB be smart enough to
forward all their exchange requests back to the original FE server so that
the session is not dropped or cancelled?


Microsoft recommends the use of NLB on FE servers, but I have yet to find
any real detail into possible issues or deployment recommendations.  After
this, I hope to write a 'Help' document to be posted on as
there isn't one there at this time.


Thanks for your expertise.



Chris Wall

Sr. Exchange Administrator


T - 919.460.3236

F - 919.468.4889


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