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The Top Ten Topics You Need to Study for the 70-662 Exam, Part 1

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With any Microsoft certification exam, there are certain topics that show up in multiple questions. There are also topics that are easy to overlook as you are studying for an exam because the topics might seem insignificant. In either case, it is difficult to pass a Microsoft certification exam without knowledge of such topics. This article discusses ten different areas that you need to study in order to pass the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 exam.

Microsoft Exchange Server has been around for many years, and as the diversity of communications grows, so does the role of the Exchange Server. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 (version 14) is the latest release and with it comes a variety of Unified Communication features as well as the core e-mail service itself. If you are studying for your 70-662 exam—Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring, you have to get the thought of just administering email out of your mind. Exchange servers are considered as the core of any network, for both messaging and the ever growing Unified Communications. With this brings the demands that Exchange server requires to run, such as the storage, the virtual and physical considerations and the integration of the Exchange server into your network. You are really going to need to know your Microsoft networking and Exchange well in order to pass the 70-662 exam, so to ensure you have all the bases covered, I have provided a checklist of topics you need to know.

1. Making sure an infrastructure is Exchange ready

As with any Microsoft exam topic, we start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!), right at the point where in the real world you would be establishing whether your network or chosen server could cope with the demands of Exchange Server 2010, and what is needed to make sure it can. This isn't just a case of knowing what operating system is compatible and how much RAM you need, or even how many CPU cores are required for each Exchange server role… because that is a given. This is also about knowing what roles are required within a given scenario, where your transport server is going, whether you need more than one, whether the question references Unified Comms, and how much storage is needed for mailboxes and translation logs.

Ensuring that you take every exam question at its word and you plan the infrastructure as per the guidelines in your study material, then you can't go far wrong.

As with the Exchange 2007 Server configuration before it, you are going to need to know what is required during the actual installation of Exchange Server. Make sure you understand why the schema is updated, what additional IIS features are required and the importance of DNS to Exchange and how this continues into the latest versions.

2. Establishing Exchange server roles

Next is knowing, once you have established the requirements of the network, which Exchange server roles will fulfill those tasks. As with its predecessors, Exchange 2010 has many varieties of installation according to the size of the business. Your Microsoft Exam questions will aim to test you on your knowledge of the right infrastructure setup for the given exam scenario. The main roles are the Hub transport server, Client Access server, Unified Messaging server, Mailbox server and the Edge Transport server. We will cover more specifics on these server roles below, but make sure you know that each role can be installed separately or altogether or in variations—it is all scenario-dependent.

3. Mobile access

Although Microsoft Exchange could have had so much more in it for mobile workers it still has a number of very useful mobility features which will be guaranteed exam question material. Focusing on Activesync and the management of mobile devices, you should make sure you are familiar with the configuration and the setup of mobile devices for users via the management console, and through the powershell. You can, for example, disable device synching via blue tooth or wireless, prevent tethering or internet access, and even disable the camera! With this granular control (which you should also note is only available if you have the licensing to allow it) you can deploy it using Activesync policies.

4. Where has SMTP gone?

Don't panic: it is still there! As with anything Microsoft, it’s considered a good idea to change the name of things, and the aim this time was to group the transport roles together. Carrying on from Exchange 2007, the Transport server role is responsible for the delivery of email to the next hop in the process. In order to do this, the Transport server role is split into the hub transport and the Edge transport. For your exam you will need to know the difference between the two, but this is mainly about the hub transport role. This can be either internet-facing or just internal, and forwarding the mail to a separate Edge transport server role. This is the home of the send-and-receive connector, the message queues and general message routing formally taken care of by the Exchange routing connector in Exchange 2003.

5. Powershell knowledge

As with Exchange 2007, the whole core of Exchange is built on the Windows Powershell (more commonly referred to as Exchange Management Shell (EMS). If you haven't had any hands on experience with the Powershell yet is highly advisable that you do, as it makes a lot more sense the more you use it. If you have been happily navigating your way round the Exchange management GUI in 2010 hoping, like previous pre Exchange 2007 versions you could get away with not needing to know it, then don't! It will be in the exams and you will be expected to know it. Start off small so that you can familiarize yourself with the syntax. The rules are slightly different than command line, such as no spaces between requests and commands (and there is a lot more piping too)—but if you persist with it and start substituting your normal Exchange management for it, then it will sink in fast. I obviously can't put every powershell command you need here, but I will be scattering them throughout both this article and part two.

6. High availability

Exchange 2010 makes some significant steps in improving its Database Availability Groups (DAG) feature. In Exchange 2003, you had to use Server clustering for high availability, which was overcomplicated and difficult to administer. In Exchange 2007, high availability came in several forms; however, this has been narrowed down to simply the Database Availability Group tool in Exchange 2010. For the exam, you will need to understand what is involved in the setup of DAGs, when you would implement DAGs, and what design you would use in a given scenario. Remember that the Witness server must be on a transport (Hub) server that is not on the same server as any of the mailbox servers in the DAG. This goes for the Transport Dumpster role as well. When it comes to questions on troubleshooting DAGs, they will often revolve around incorrectly configured servers where the Witness server is down or the heartbeat has failed, which in turn causes Split Brain or just no availability whatsoever. This is where the Data Center Activation Coordination role comes into play in to prevent this type of issue.

7. Troubleshooting Exchange connectivity

There is now quite a selection of tools in the Exchange 2010 toolkit in comparison to the Exchange 2003 and older. The classics remain, however, and you are still able to enabling logging on the transport server in order to trace the SMTP communication progress of the mail (although this does come with a much easier to use web interface tool called the Tracking Log Explorer). You can also still view the mail queue, with a few additional tabs that you should be aware of for the exam. The Queues tab lists any email that is waiting to be processed, the messages tab lists the current mail queue, and the un-routable domain is fairly self-explanatory. You can get a lot of information about the messages when they are listed here, you can also delete, resubmit and export the messages from the queues using either the EMC or the EMS. The mail flow troubleshooting tool allows you to send a test message and see if anything is misconfigured in your setup. There are a number of tools available from Microsoft's download center that can be used to test and troubleshoot an Exchange server environment; however, stick to the tools that come with the software and that are in your study materials for the purposes of the exam.

8. Exchange databases

Exchange 2010 stays with the EDB database format that has been so successful for them over the years; always keeping the databases up and running is one of the main elements of Exchange administration. When you install Exchange for the first time, you have an Exchange mail database and a Public folder database. As was the case with previous Exchange versions, you can perform routine maintenance on your Exchange databases in order to keep them tidy and more efficient. You won't need to know the specific commands for carrying out an offline defrag, but you may be required to set up online maintenance, which includes the online defrag in a simulation question. One of the main considerations when you are installing Exchange is the storage considerations, not just for capacity planning but also for Exchange server performance. The number of mailboxes that you are expected to setup dictates where your databases and transaction logs are stored, the RAID setup on the drives, and whether high availability is required (discussed later).

9. Backing up and restoring

When it comes to thinking about backups in a Microsoft environment, always think Microsoft. For the purposes of your exam, the only questions you are going to be asked in relation to backup software used will center on Windows Server backup. It's a fairly straightforward feature to install and run, which you can easily master with a bit of hands on experience. On the other hand, you should also consider the alternatives to running backup software, such as Database availability groups (see point 6). Although not considered a backup strategy, you can have multiple instance of the database available, with a copy at other sites if possible. You can also enable mailbox and single item recovery if required. When an exam question is leaning towards increasing the availability and fault tolerance as part of a disaster recovery plan, then DAGs and backups go hand-in-hand.

Install the Windows Server backup using the following command:

ServerManagerCmd -i Backup-Features

10. Virtual directories

A vital component of the Client Access Server role is the virtual directories that tie into Windows Server 2008 IIS and allow for the remote access features to function. The six Exchange virtual directories are Outlook Web Access, Exchange Control Panel, Exchange Web Services, Active-sync, Autodiscover, and Outlook Address Book. Each one provides external connectivity or plays a part in some way or another, so make sure you know what each one of these does and the features they contain. They are configurable in the EMC under Server configuration >> Client access node. One of the new features for Exchange 2010 is that you can choose to recreate the virtual directories via the recreate the virtual directories wizard in the action pane in the EMC. Previously, if a virtual directory became corrupt or misconfigured and you wanted to recreate it then you had to reinstall the Client Access server role, which was no small task.

Continue to Part Two of this two-part article series.

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