The cool tools keep coming for Exchange admins, and the latest release for those of us interested in Exchange 2013 is the newest version of the Exchange Deployment Assistant. Formally called the Exchange 2013 Deployment Assistant, but we’re pretty sure either ExDA2013 will catch on, or it will be blended into the Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistant and just called ExDA, is a web based tool designed to help administrators plan for their deployment of Exchange 2013. Released while still in its infancy, ExDA2013 has support for three scenarios at present, with more promised in the near future, probably right after the release of Exchange 2013 CU1.
If you have never used ExDA before, you’re in for a treat. These tools are web based, and once you choose the high-level scenario for what you plan to do with Exchange, you will be presented with a series of questions. At the end, you can view online or save off to PDF a step by step set of instructions with checklists to walk you through the deployment steps for Exchange that best match your scenario. Links are included to more information throughout, so you can really have at the tip of your mouse exactly what you are going to need to do to install and configure Exchange.
The ExDA2013 currently supports the following three scenarios.
- On-premises install of Exchange 2013 into an organization without a preexisting Exchange infrastructure
- Hybrid installations to support coexistence between on-prem and Office 365
- Cloud only
Of course, very few of us interested in Exchange 2013 will be able to work with these three scenarios at present, since we will have existing Exchange 2010, 2007, or dare I admit it, even Exchange 2003 infrastructures in place. Here’s what you can expect. Exchange 2013 CU1 will be released soon, and that of course contains the bits needed to coexist with Exchange 2010 SP3 or Exchange 2007. Odds are good that the ExDA2013 will be updated immediately after CU1 is released. In ExDA2013 you can see where those scenarios are promised as “coming soon.”
Exchange 2003 users aren’t going to be so lucky. There is no indication that anything has changed with regard to coexistence between Exchange 2003 and 2013-you’re going to have to upgrade in multiple phases. Considering Exchange 2003 is now ten years old, and would be effectively an N-3 version, that really doesn’t surprise or disappoint me, even though I know there are many organizations out there still on Exchange 2003.
Using ExDA2013 is very similar to the previous version, though the graphics have obviously been give the new UI treatment. The on-premises scenario asks you the following questions:
- Single role server, or separating CAS from Mailbox
- Disjoint namespace
- Unified Messaging
- UM Gateway (VoIP, PBX, or Lync)
Once you answer those, it generates your checklist and step by step instructions on how to proceed.
The hybrid deployment scenarios offer choices for your on-prem being based on Exchange 2013, 2010, 2007, or 2003. All but the 2013 options land you on a terminating page that offers previews of coming attractions, while the 2013 asks you about:
- Single sign-on
- Mail routing
- Edge Transport server usage
Once you answer those, again, it generates your checklist and step by step instructions on how to proceed.
The cloud only scenario touches on account management and whether or not there are mailboxes to migrate. If there are, you will essentially following the Hybrid scenario until migrations are complete so the questions and paths are the same.
Given the value of ExDA for Exchange 2010, it’s great to see ExDA2013 available, even if there aren’t too many scenarios ready at this time. I’m confident that we will see more in the near future and consultants and admins alike will quickly make ExDA2013 a favourite in their browsers. If you want to check it out yourself, click http://technet.microsoft.com/exdeploy2013 and run it through its paces.