Setup your Exchange lab in less than $50 bucks

This tutorial will guide you on having a full Exchange environment in the cloud following best practices, Basically to setup your Exchange lab in less than $50 bucks – Prior to this lab I had setup a lab at my home running tons of memory and disk storage but getting a live production like lab is not easy to setup where you want to setup the #OWA and #ActiveSync and test these services externally.

Taking advantage of the fact that there are high competition between cloud service providers, After long evaluation and personal testing I picked the cloud provider that will meet all the requirements. So I decided to go with #VPSIE (vpsie). In this post I will not be doing too much technical stuff but I’m going to put the screen capture and how does it look like once you register. Signup-Link — I liked this one not only because of the best pricing  but also they offer Windows server on all their packages with  #SSD (by default in their all offering). For any version of #Exchange #server SSD makes a huge difference.

You many not need to setup a live lab like this for #DAG but for other service yes it does help a lot.

It also gives you the console level access directly from the browser without installing any Java or add-ons which is neat for troubleshooting as well as their live support. Let’ s start by looking at the lab at my domain name in this case is https://mail.O365SME.COM

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Package selection would be minimal required for this lab environment – Spike package would be sufficient for our lab.

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LAB Servers

In this lab I’ve setup only one AD Server and One Exchange 2010 SP3 – You can see the RAM and and the Disk allowed to each.

To protect Active Directory I have set it up on private network while it can only communicate with Exchange over private link – It’s a very bad idea to have AD on public Internet that is definitely not recommended  for any production use.

OS Selection:

I selected Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition for this lab – It comes already activated so

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This is the actual look of my account configured for this lab.

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It took 2 minutes to spin up each of the Windows servers – After Spinning up – I logged in to console to configure AD as the DNS and do basic configurations that we will get to in details.

Console Access – Coolest Feature 

This feature I must mention here which I’ve not seen using #azure (I am not compare with #azure but wish if they offered that feature). Many time it happens what if the server is not accessible  over remote desktop?    I’ve ran into the situation where I lost access to the RDP and I had de-allocate and re-allocate the machine. Reboot the machine a number of times to made it work. Console Feature , let’s you login to the console just like logging in via KVM. It just simply work on the web browser (safari, firefox and IE). Even if you have to change the port for the RDP you can make the changes via console access and RDP on that port.

Another good and important feature is Private IP (I’ll talk about more details later). So even if you have a private ip on you VM you can still access it via console access, you don’t really need a public ip to access that machine.

What you can achieve with this , you don’t have to publish that server on the public ip address. If you were to put an AD server for your Exchange Server then you don’t need a public ip address on that server. You can access that server on the private ip using console access over a browser.

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The actual console will look like that, Within a browser window – Very neat:)

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I wanted to keep the cost for this lab at the lower end – So I started with the lower package and then manually added 10GB of SSD storage individually to satisfy exchange minimal storage requirements  :

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Exchange is an application that is streamlined by hands-on experience, To actually learn it you need to do it – you could take advantage of their | Free Trial Now |– As we go with more details on the technical part of this setup I need to have some time to put together some topology graph as well as high level architecture overview.