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Trust, but verify after Exchange Server 2016 installation

Admins may be eager to put Exchange Server 2016 into production after installation, but they should check off several tasks to ensure the messaging platform is stable.

The Exchange Server 2016 installation process is often relatively simple and straightforward. Even so, the completion...

of the setup wizard does not necessarily mean Exchange Server is ready for use.

There are often several post-installation tasks that need to be completed before a new Exchange Server is put into production. The factors that determine which tasks are needed include how Exchange was installed and how the existing Exchange Server environment is configured.

Verify the deployment status

Administrators should verify the Exchange Server deployment was successful. There are times when the install process completes without issue, but the installation could still be corrupted.

There are several methods to verify the integrity of the Exchange Server 2016 installation. A simple way is to open the Exchange Management Shell and run the Get-ExchangeServer cmdlet. This cmdlet provides a list of the organization's Exchange Servers and the roles on each server (Figure 1). Make sure the newly deployed Exchange Server appears on the list.

Get-ExchangeServer cmdlet.
Figure 1. Administrators can verify the Exchange Server installed properly by using the Get-ExchangeServer cmdlet to generate the list of the Exchange Servers.

Next, open the Service Control Manager and make sure any Exchange Server-related service -- the names begin with Microsoft Exchange -- with an Automatic startup type is running (Figure 2). If a service with an Automatic startup type is not running, it doesn't necessarily indicate a problem. It may be possible to manually start the service. If not, check the event logs for clues to the service failure. Some of the most common causes of Exchange Server service failures include a dependency service that is not running or an inability to communicate with a domain controller.

Exchange Server services
Figure 2: In the Service Control Manager, check that the Exchange Server services with an Automatic startup type are running.

Lastly, check the Exchange Server setup log at <%Systemroot%>\ExchangeSetupLogs\ExchangeSetup.log (Figure 3).

Exchange setup log
Figure 3. Review the Exchange setup log for any problems.

Configuration tasks

The Exchange Server 2016 installation configuration tasks that administrators need to perform will vary based on whether there are existing Exchange Servers. Accepted domains and email address policy are organizational-level settings, but the administrator must set them with the first Exchange Server in the organization.

Set up accepted domains

After the administrator verifies the status of the Exchange Server installation and the server is functioning properly, confirm the organization's domain name appears on the list of accepted domains, which are the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol namespaces that handle mail delivery. If the domain name is not present, add it. The accepted domains list appears within the Exchange Admin Center's Mail Flow tab (Figure 4).

Exchange Admin Center accepted domains
Figure 4. Admins can verify the organization's domain name appears on the list of accepted domains in the Exchange Admin Center.

Adjust the email address policy

The email address policy is another important setting that determines the format of email addresses for recipients in your Exchange environment. Exchange provides a default policy, but typically organizations want to use a different email address format. For example, the organization may want to use the user's full first and last name in the email address.

Access the email address policy within the Exchange Admin Center's Mail Flow tab (Figure 5).

Adjust email address policy
Figure 5. Admins can adjust the email address policy in the Exchange Admin Center's Mail Flow tab.

Configure edge subscription

Most organizations that deploy Exchange Server opt to also deploy an Edge Transport server. Although the edge transport server role is technically optional, it should be considered essential since it shields back-end Exchange servers from the internet. For organizations with an edge transport server, one post-installation configuration step is to subscribe the mailbox server to the edge server.

Bring the server up to date

Before putting the new server into production, apply any available operating system and Exchange Server patches. It is also a good idea to install and patch antimalware software.

Enter a product key

One more post-Exchange Server 2016 installation task is to enter the product key. Although this is a required task, some organizations wait a few weeks to add the product key to newly installed Exchange servers to verify the server works properly and Exchange does not need to be reinstalled.

Administrators can enter the product key through the Exchange Management Shell or through the Exchange Management Console, but the Exchange Management Shell tends to be the easiest to use. The command used to enter the product key is:

Set-ExchangeServer <Server Name> -ProductKey <Product Key>

Ultimately, the tasks that need to be completed after Exchange Server is installed will vary based on each own unique Exchange Server deployment. Even so, some tasks -- such as adding a product key and patching the server -- are nearly universal.

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