One of the biggest issue’s any administrator faces with any type of Exchange upgrade or migration is the prospect of mailbox moves. The issue comes from the fact that a mailbox move, from the moment it’s started, makes the mailbox unavailable to the end user until it’s completed.
This comes from the way that mailbox moves are done in Exchange 2000/3/7. The mailbox move is actually a MAPI copy operation. The reason’s behind this are clear, Exchange need’s to lock in the mailbox, then copy it, to ensure that no data is lost. The user is stuck waiting for the mailbox move to complete, meaning they can’t work. This ends up in mailbox moves being forced to happen late at night in bunches, through the use of scripting or other methods.
One of the exciting new features of Exchange 2010 is online mailbox move’s, which are called Mailbox Move Requests. This new feature allows administrators to move mailbox’s while the user is actively using it. How does this work you ask? The magic lies in a new service that is installed on Exchange 2010 Client Access Servers, the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service:
Exchange 2010 no longer performs a MAPI copy operation to perform any of it’s mailbox moves. Now, when a move request is created, the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service or (MRS) is responsible for replicating the mailbox from it’s source, to it’s destination. An initial replication occurs, and then incremental updates happen until the service can complete the move. Once the service completes’ the sync, the user receives a message to restart outlook. They restart, their mailbox is again available. The only downtime was for them to restart Outlook, not bad at all.
The nice part about this, is that mailbox move’s from Exchange 2007 benefit from this feature when moving to an Exchange 2010 mailbox. Keep in mind that you must be at service pack level 2 with Exchange 2007 for it and 2010 to interoperate.
Let’s take a look at actually performing one of these. In our environment we have two Exchange 2007 servers, DEVLOCALHT1, which is a Hub Transport/Client Access Server, and DEVLOCALMB1, which is a Mailbox Server. Then we have three Exchange 2010 servers. DEVLOCALHT2010, which is a Hub Transport/Client Access Server, and then DEVLOCALNODE1 and DEVLOCALNODE2 which are both Mailbox Servers. The Mailbox Servers are joined into a Database Availability Group or DAG. If your not sure what a DAG is, see my article series:
Our user, creatively named Paul Ponzeka, has an Exchange 2010 mailbox. We currently have two Mailbox Database’s in Exchange 2010, MDB1 and MDB2:
Currently Paul Ponzeka’s mailbox is located on MDB1, and we’ll move him to MDB2. In the Exchange 2010 EMC, navigate to Recipient Configuration->Mailbox. Select Paul Ponzeka, right click and select New Local Move Request:
Don’t let the language fool you, if your moving a mailbox anywhere within the SAME Active Directory Forest, its a Local Move. If your moving the mailbox Cross-Forest’s, its a Remove Move.
Select the target mailbox database:
After selecting next, you’ll see a familiar screen regarding what to do regarding corrupted items. You can choose to have the move fail, or to ignore up to a certain amount of items.
After you select next, you’ll have a summary page, select the “New” button, and as always, it will provide you with the powershell command for the equivalent.
Now, if you navigate to Recipient Configuration->Move Request, you’ll see the move request, and it’s progress:
You can also get the progress through the Exchange Management Shell by running the command:
Also, in the Event Viewer of DEVLOCALHT2010, the Client Access Server handling the move, we will note that Event ID 1102 is logged regarding the start of the move:
Once the move is complete, Event ID 1107 will be logged:
And if we notice back in the EMC, the status of the move:
And the shell:
Now, the client, who’s Outlook has been open the whole time, will receive the following message:
Once the client restart’s outlook, their mailbox is back, and they’ve only been out of Outlook from the time the move completed, till when they restart.
The move’s work EXACTLY the same way as from an Exchange 2007 SP2 mailbox with no difference.
The new online mailbox moves, through the Move Mailbox Request feature of Exchange 2010 will allow administrators to move mailbox’s with minimal downtime and interruption to the end users.