Tip: Exchange Server Deployment Assistant

I get asked all of the time for some kind of checklist from Microsoft that you could run through for an Exchange Server 2010 deployment.

One of the best tips that I can give anyone as far as the deployment of Exchange 2010 is to use the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant.

Seen it already? Go see it again. It is a living tool that changes as Microsoft discovers new information from your feedback and other sources and it has probably changed since the last time you looked at it. Remember the Setup.hta file that you might have used in your Exchange 2003 deployment? This is better since it gets updated.

Why is this tool so important? Well, since the release of Exchange 2010, we have found that the same deployment mistakes are happening across multiple customers. Many of those deployment mistakes could have been avoided if the administrator had followed the directions in this tool.

One of the great features of this tool is the ability to download the checklist to PDF format so that you can compare it offline with your internal deployment guide and make changes if necessary.

A big area where we often see deployment issues is the whole CAS scenario: 

  • What names (or namespaces) should I include in the Exchange certificate?
  • How do I create the certificates?
  • Should I use a wildcard certificate?
  • How do I assign services to the certificate?
  • How do I install the certificate on the legacy Exchange server?
  • How do I know if this worked?

Guess what? All of these questions are covered in the tool. In fact some of these are titles for different sections.

Almost every section has the “How do I…?”, followed by “How do I know if this worked?” How cool is that?

Want to know the order that you should install servers? Follow the checklist.

What are the post-installation tasks? Follow the checklist.

Would we be so bold as to say that we have covered every scenario? No. Sometimes, we run across a new one that isn’t addressed by the tool. In those cases we have a “Feedback” link at the top of the page that allows you to make a suggestion directly to the team that writes the tool. I have personally seen requests for changes that have made it into the tool. Got a suggestion? Go ahead and let Microsoft know.

All in all, if this tool finds one area in your deployment that you might have missed, it is well worth the effort to check it out.

Got a tip for Miss T. Proactive? Send it to missproactive at Microsoft dot com.