Deploying Exchange 2016: Pitfalls & Gotchas

by Travis Hall | Arrow Systems Integration

 In my last post, we did a tutorial on installing Exchange 2016 on Windows Server 2012R2 in a lab environment. In this post, I want to get a little broader and review some items that can be “gotchas” or “pit-falls” when installing Exchange 2016 in different scenarios. Whether you have an on-premise organization you are looking to migrate, or are planning to setup a hybrid environment with Office 365, this will be helpful in making sure you understand the coexistence scenarios that are supported with Exchange 2016.

Supported Coexistence Scenarios

Exchange 2016 coexistence is supported with Exchange 2010 SP3 RU11 and higher versions of Exchange. This is very important to consider before attempting to install Exchange 2016 in your environment for a coexistence or migration scenarios as the install will fail. Use the table below to determine if your Exchange environment can support a coexistence with Exchange 2016.

Supported Hybrid Scenarios

You may be deploying Exchange 2016 as part of a hybrid deployment with an Office 365 tenant. Configuring a hybrid deployment will involve running the Hybrid Configuration wizard, and to run that your Exchange organization must meet specific requirements. Use the table below to determine compatibility with Exchange 2016 as your hybrid deployment server.

NOTE: For Exchange 2016 servers, this must be a server with the Mailbox server role installed.

Active Directory | Domain Controllers | DNS & IPv6

To even install Exchange 2016 properly, your domain and domain controllers must be running Windows Server 2008 or higher. During setup prerequisite checks, the install will fail if your domain running at a lower (legacy) version.  There are also considerations regarding DNS and IPv6 configurations. Use the following table for reference of supported Active Directory and Domain Controller scenarios.

NOTE: Using 64-bit Active Directory domain controllers increases directory service performance for Exchange 2016. 

Also note that installing Exchange 2016 on an Active Directory domain controller is technically possible, however it is not best practice and should be avoided for security and performance reasons. Once Exchange 2016 is installed on a server, you can’t promote it to a domain controller. Bottom line…DONT INSTALL Exchange 2016 on a domain controller.

Operating System

In Exchange 2016 you must be running Windows Server 2012 Standard at a minimum. The current recommended best practice is to install Exchange 2016 on Windows Server 2012R2 Standard or Datacenter. I will elaborate on that further in the next subsection. The table below displays the supported OS levels for Exchange 2016 and the Management Tools.  I have highlighted the current best practice versions for your benefit.


*Requires Exchange Server 2016 Cumulative Update 3 or later.

NOTE: Windows Server Core and Windows Nano Server are not supported. 

Known Issue: Exchange 2016 and Windows Server 2016

It has recently been announced by the Microsoft Exchange Team that there is a bug with IIS crashing on Exchange 2016 servers that are running on Windows Server 2016. At the moment there is not a fix for this issue and they are working for a resolution. So for now, the best practice is running Exchange 2016 on Windows Server 2012R2.

You can read the full Exchange Team blog post here:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/exchange/2016/11/04/update-on-windows-server-2016-and-exchange-server-2016/

.NET Framework

Having the correct version of .NET installed with your Exchange server is very important. This year with the release of .NET 4.6.1 we have seen many instances of unsupported versions being installed as a result of automatic Windows Updates. Use the table below to determine the right version of .NET to install for your deployment. As with the previous section, I have highlighted the current best practice versions.

1 .NET Framework 4.6.2 is supported by Exchange 2016 only on servers running Windows Server 2016.

2 .NET Framework 4.6.1 requires post-release fixes if you want to install it on a server running Exchange 2016 CU2. For more information, see Exchange 2016 prerequisites.

3 If you're upgrading to Exchange 2016 CU2 from Exchange 2016 RTM or Exchange 2016 CU1, we strongly recommend that you install Exchange 2016 CU2 before .NET Framework 4.6.1 and its related post-release fixes.

Supported Outlook Client Versions

The minimum supported version of Outlook is 2010 (Windows), but it requires that an update be installed for it to connect to Exchange 2016 using MAPI over HTTP.  The following lists the supported Outlook client versions for Exchange 2016.

  • Outlook 2016
  • Outlook 2013
  • Outlook 2010 with KB2965295
  • Outlook for Mac for Office 365
  • Outlook for Mac 2011

For a list of Outlook releases that Exchange supports, see Outlook Updates.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post is useful to you in planning your deployment of Exchange 2016. Check back frequently for updates on this topic or new post on related topics.

Cheers

 

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