Occasionally you’ll need to test a specific Exchange functionality in the real world, and that demands a publicly registered domain, MX records, a public IP address and so on.

You may already have a publicly registered domain, or you are probably using a service such as DynDNS or FreeDNS that gives you automatic and *free* DNS registration and a public (sub)domain name that is valid on the Internet and can be used with your dynamic IP address that your ISP gives you.

Getting a SAN certificate however can be a showstopper: no-one offers limited time, free SAN certificate trial options. SAN certificates are extensively used by Exchange from version 2007 onwards, and you need a globally trusted certificate if you want to test your server with public services.

You can get, however, a free, trial Class 1 certificate, even for a full year if you go with StartCom, trusted all across the public Internet, that can be used for testing with public services such as Office 365 or any other public service.

At minimum, an Exchange system requires at least two namespaces:

– mail.yourdomain.tld (for example), used for access and SMTP transport.
– autodiscover.yourdomain.tld, used by the autodiscover service.

Here comes the trick: use autodiscover.yourdomain.tld instead of mail.yourdomain.tld. It’s a test environment, right? So it doesn’t matter whether you access your system via autodiscover.yourdomain.tld. Exchange doesn’t care either whether you use autodiscover.yourdomain.tld for access and transport on top of the autodiscover service for discovery and automatic configuration. It will not whinge if you configure, say, your external OWA with https://autodiscover.yourdomain.tld/owa – it will work just fine. And so will your test ADFS and DirSync with Office 365.

All you have to do is this:

  • Configure all external (and/or internal) Exchange Web URLs to use autodiscover.yourdomain.tld, such as https://autodiscover.yourdomain.tld/owa.
  • Obtain a free, single name Class 1 SSL certificate for autodiscover.yourdomain.tld, install it on your test Exchange server and assign it to Exchange services.

There you have it, enjoy your testing.

Category: How to do; Ideas; Servers
Published: 3/17/2014 9:31