Microsoft Releases Data Center Switchover-Switchback Tool for Exchange 2010

Microsoft recently released a new tool to help administrators manage Exchange 2010 data center switchovers and switchbacks for database availability groups.

The tool [PPTX] runs under the company’s PowerPoint software and is designed to help administrators troubleshoot the process. Consisting of 45 PowerPoint slides, the tool presents administrators with a series of questions that helps them to determine what commands to run, where to run them and how to verify whether or not the commands were completed successfully.

When performing switchovers and switchbacks, a number of factors determine what commands to run and when to run them, according to Microsoft. For instance, are Exchange servers available in the primary data center? Is network connectivity available between the primary and remote data center? And is Exchange deployed in a topology with a single Active Directory site or multiple sites?

In addition, when those commands are executed, administrators needs to know if they’re completed properly. They need to know if a command to stop a database availability group was successful or if the correct steps were taken when restoring a database availability group. They may also want to know the appropriate time to start a database availability group.

To interact with the switchover-switchback tool, you must be in slideshow mode. That allows you to click areas on a slide and advance along the decision trees within the tool.

For example, the initial slide gives you two options for a data center switchover — stop database availability group and restore database availability group — and one for a data center switchback — start database availability group.

Clicking the stop database availability group option will take you to a slide with the question — has the data center switch over been approved? — to which you can answer, yes or no.

If you choose no, you’ll be bounced back to the beginning of the presentation.

If you choose yes, you’ll be instructed to stop the cluster service on each DAG in the recovery data center and be given the commands to perform that task on hardware running Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2008 SP2. The command slide also gives you an idea of what to expect after you execute the recommended commands and common errors that you may encounter.

After completing the instructions on the command slide, you can click on the “command completed?” bar at the bottom of the slide to advance to the next one in the process.

The decision tree for a data center switchback is handled in a similar way. Clicking on the switchback button will take you to a slide that asks you if your primary data center is online.

If you choose no, you’ll be bounced back to the beginning of the presentation.

If you choose yes, you’ll be taken to a slide that provides you with a checklist of supporting services you’ll need to start up a database availability group. When you have the requisite supporting services running, clicking the continue bar at the bottom of the slide will continue to take you through the process.

The switchback-switchover tool brings paint-by-numbers simplicity to a complex process. It asks the right questions in the right order and will give you the right feedback when you need to execute commands necessary for a switchover and switchback to a data center with Exchange 2010.

Written by John P Mello Jr

John Mello is a freelance writer who has written about business and technical subjects for more than 25 years. He is frequent contributor to the ECT News Network and his work has appeared in a number of periodicals, including Byte magazine, PC World, Computerworld, CIO magazine and the Boston Globe

1 Comment

  1. B. Kohl · November 9, 2012

    I’m everything but a seasoned Exchange admin but this PowerPoint tool just shocked me. What happened to good old .exe files? Administering a server from within a presentation is pretty sick to me. When possible, I always go for command line tools because you know this is authentic. What if PowerPoint crashes while you are performing a switch?

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