Configuring an Exchange 2013 Hybrid Deployment and Migrating to Office 365 (Exchange Online) (Part 2)

by [Published on 25 April 2013 / Last Updated on 25 April 2013]

In this article I’ll provide an overview of the on-premises lab environment used for this article series and go through the sign-up process for a tenant in the new Office 365 as well as take a look at the new Office 365 portal. Finally, we will add our on-premises domain to Office 365.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

In part 1 of this multi-part article series revolving around Exchange 2013 hybrid deployment based migrations to Office 365 or more precisely Exchange Online, I talked about Office 365 in general and provided you an insight into some of most significant new features included with the new Exchange Online. Moreover, I explained what migration approaches we have at our disposal, when migrating from an on-premises mail environment to the Exchange Online part of the new Office 365.

In this part 2, we will continue where we left off in part 1. That is, I’ll provide an overview of the on-premises lab environment used for this article series. In addition, we’ll go through the sign-up process for a tenant in the new Office 365 as well as take a look at the new Office 365 portal. Finally, we will add our on-premises domain to Office 365.

Let’s get started.

Overview of the Lab Environment

The lab environment used as the basis of this article series consists of the following servers:

  • 2 x Windows Server 2012 Domain Controllers
  • 2 x Exchange Server 2013 with CU1 multi-role (CAS & Mailbox) servers

The Active Directory forest name is ”clouduser.dk” and split-brain DNS is used, which means that the same namespace is used internally as well as externally. Forest and domain functional level is running in Windows Server 2012 mode.

The two Exchange 2013 multi-role servers (CAS & Mailbox) have been installed using Exchange 2013 Customer Update 1 (CU1) bits, which is required in order to set up a hybrid configuration with Exchange Online in the new Office 365 service. A wildcard certificate (*.clouduser.dk) has been installed and configured on the Exchange 2013 servers. Moreover, the Exchange 2013 servers have been configured in a Windows NLB cluster in order to provide load balancing and failover on the CAS level.

All mailboxes that we wish to migrate to Exchange Online are stored on these servers. Bear in mind, the databases on the servers aren’t part of a availability group (DAG) as I didn’t want to involve an external load balancer in this lab environment.

Public folders also exist on the Exchange 2013 servers. We will also take a look at how these can be migrated to the new Exchange Online.

Outlook Anywhere, Exchange ActiveSync and the Outlook Web App (OWA) service has been published to the Internet.

When moving through this article series, we will deploy the following new servers into the on-premises environment:

  • 2 x Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) Servers (for identity federation)
  • 2 x Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) Proxy Servers (for identity federation)
  • 1 x Windows Server 2012 domain member server with DirSync configured (yes the latest DirSync tool bits supports installation on Windows Server 2012)

Below is a conceptual diagram of the environment after the new servers have been deployed.

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Figure 1:
Conceptual diagram of lab environment

Signing-Up for Tenant in the New Office 365

It’s time to sign up for a tenant in the new Office 365. To do so, go to the respective Office 365 web page and click on the “Try now” button.

Note:
In this article, we want to sign up for an Office 365 Enterprise E3 plan. If you want to try out another plan, you must go to the relevant Office 365 web page.

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Figure 2: Clicking on the “Try now” button on the Office 365 Sign-up page

We are then taken to a “start your free 30-day trial” from that must be filled out. 

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Figure 3: Filling out the ”Start your free 30-day trial” form

As you can see, you must fill out things such as residing country, name, e-mail address for primary contact and organization name. In addition, you must specify the user ID and tenant name you wish to use. With all the organizations hosted in Office 365, there’s a good chance the first tenant name you choose will already be in use. But you will get a warning if this is the case. When filled out, you will be automatically signed into the new Office 365 portal. But first, you are asked to enter a mobile phone number and email address that can be used to reset the password for the global administrator account.

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Figure 4: Enter mobile phone number and email address used for reset password purposes

When clicking “Save and continue”, you are taken to the Office 365 portal. As you can see, it follows the new blue theme just like all the services offered in Office 365. Also, you can see the miscellaneous services (Exchange, Lync, Office subscription and SharePoint) are currently being provisioned. This will take a minute or two, but you can still navigate around in the portal and begin to configure stuff.

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Figure 5: The New Office 365 portal (services being provisioned)

When you have signed up for a tenant, you will also receive a welcome email with information such as Global Administrator name and email address, organization name, service plan and trial start/end date.

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Figure 6: Welcome e-mail

A Look at the New Office 365 Portal

So as you can see in the following figure, the Office 365 Portal got a facelift with the new Office 365 service. It now follows the blue theme as most other products and services from Microsoft. With that said, we still have a navigation pane, a work pane and an action pane. The different features, configuration and options can still be accessed via the navigation pane to the left. Depending on what is selected, we can configure the respective thing in the work pane.

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Figure 7:
The new Office 365 Portal

In addition to the three panes, we also have a nifty toolbar in the top right corner. From here, we can access our mailbox (via OWA), the calendar, people hub newsfeed, SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint sites. In addition, we can click on “Admin”, which will bring up a drop-down menu, where we can quickly switch between Office 365, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint.

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Figure 8:
Admin drop-down menu in the Office 365 Portal

Let’s click on “Exchange” in the drop-down menu. This takes us to the “Exchange admin center”, which those of you with Exchange 2013 experience can see is very similar to the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) we have in the on-premises Exchange 2013 product.

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Figure 9:
The Exchange Online admin center

As you may have guessed, this is where we configure all the Exchange related things. Also notice, that like in the previous version of Exchange Online, we do not have a servers node in the left pane as Exchange 2013 Online servers are shared among the customers.

Adding a Domain to the Office 365 Tenant

By default, our Office 365 tenant is configured with what we call a vanity domain (tenant_name.onmicrosoft.com). Since we want to be able to use our primary on-premise domain (clouduser.dk) with this tenant, the first thing we want to do in order to prepare for a hybrid deployment is to add our on-premise domain name to our new Office 365 tenant. The procedure for this has not changed much, but the steps in the Office 365 portal have changed a bit. To add a domain to an Office 365 tenant, click “Domains” under the Management work center. On the “Domains” page, you see the default “clouduserdk.onmicrosoft.com” domain listed.

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Figure 10: Domains section in Office 365 portal

Click “start step 1”.

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Figure 11:
Add a domain to Office 365

Specify the domain you wish to add (in this case “clouduser.dk”) as shown in Figure 12 then click “next”.

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Figure 12: Specifying the domain you wish to add

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Figure 13:
Instructions for verifying the added domain

To add a TXT record, log on to the DNS control panel at your DNS hosting provider then click ”Add TXT record” or whatever its called in the web UI you’re using. The steps differ a bit from DNS provider to provider, but basically, you need to add a host name and the ”Destination” for that host name as shown in Figure 14.

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Figure 14:
TXT record added in the DNS Control Panel at public DNS provider

When Office 365 can verify the domain successfully, you are taken to the page shown in Figure 15. Click “finish”.

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Figure 15:
Ownership of domain confirmed

We have now reached “Step 2”. Click “start step 2

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Figure 16: Step 2 reached

Since we will add users using the DirSync tool later, select the option “I don’t want to add users right now” and click “next”.

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Figure 17:
Selecting to add users at a later time

Click “start step 3”.

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Figure 18:
Step 3 reached

In step 3, we need to specify how the “clouduser.dk” domain will be used with Office 365. In this article, we will only focus on the Exchange Online service, so will only tick that one. However, we plan to have a mix of Exchange Online and Exchange on-premises mailboxes, so there’s some extra configuration to perform.

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Figure 19:
Specifying how we wish to use the domain with Office 365

Selecting that we have a hybrid scenario means we need to go through some extra primarily mail flow related steps. More specifically, we need to create inbound and outbound connectors. But that’s a thing we will look at later on in this article series.

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Figure 20:
Making sure on-premises mailboxes are ready to work with Office 365

This concludes part 2 of this multi-part article in which I explain how you configure Exchange 2013 hybrid environment and migrate to Office 365 (Exchange Online).

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

The Author — Henrik Walther

Henrik Walther avatar

Henrik Walther is a respected writer with special focus on Microsoft Exchange and Office 365/BPOS (Exchange Online) solutions within the unified communications area. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was an eight year Exchange MVP and back in 2006 he took the Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange certification.

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