Building an Exchange Unified Messaging Lab

This is a project I have been meaning to do for some time, and when I got around to doing it found it to be harder than I expected it to be. So this blog series covers the steps needed to build a Unified Messaging lab utilising Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server along with the steps to build a software PBX using AsteriskNOW and a SIP Trunk provider to give me inbound and outbound telephone calls.

Posts In This Blog Series


Initial Requirements

We will start with a list of the requirements to build this lab:

  1. A virtualization server. This blog will reference Hyper-V but any will do.
  2. Purchase a domain name for the lab. For the blog we will use
  3. A domain controller. For this blog the domain is mcmemail.local
  4. An Exchange Server 2010 or 2013 installation.
    1. For Exchange 2010 you need to install the Mailbox, CAS, Transport and Unified Messaging roles onto one or more servers
    2. For Exchange 2013 you need to install the Mailbox and Client Access Front End role on either the same or two machines.
  5. A PBX. For this blog series we will download and install two different software PBX’s. First we will look at AsteriskNOW and then 3CX’s software PBX. The first is free of charge, but requires work to make it work and the second is a paid product (but has a 2 line fully functioning demo version) that has options to work with Exchange without a lot of configuration.
  6. A SIP Trunk Provider. For this blog we are using Voipfone who provide free SIP trunks and a free UK incoming number. You will want to pick a provider in your country and there are plenty to choose from. Voipfone were selected for the lab because they appeared on an “free sip trunk uk” search and no other reason.
  7. The ability to configure the firewall between the lab and the internet. Fixed IP’s preferred, but NATed IP’s are possible (and will be covered here).
  8. You will need some trusted digital certificates if you want to utilise Lync towards the end of the blog series. I am using Start SSL as they provide unlimited UC digital certificates (subject alternative name containing certificates) for a low fee.

So lets start. We will not cover the detail of the Hyper-V installation or the creation and configuration of virtual machines to host the domain controller and Exchange Servers. So if you are starting from scratch go an build yourself a working Exchange environment now and come back here as we prepare to do the Unified Communications bit.

All You Need To Know About PBX’s

The PBX (or Private Branch Exchange) is the hardware or software needed to make your traditional office telephone system work. This connected your physical telephone lines and your office telephones and allowed for internal calls, external calls, voicemail and lots more (at typically incremental cost for each feature). For your lab, if you want to connect Exchange and or Lync to your existing PBX then you will need either an IP PBX or an IP Gateway to connect your non-IP PBX to the IP based software that is Exchange or Lync.
Or you could install a software based IP PBX just for the lab. This is what we are going to do in Part 2, and once installed we will connect it to Exchange Server to provide voicemail and later “replace it” with Lync Server as that is a full IP PBX in its own right.



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One response to “Building an Exchange Unified Messaging Lab”

  1. Jon avatar

    Hey Brian, just wanted to drop a line and say how fantastic this guide was. Almost 2 years later and it’s still the most concise outline on the internet for Exchange 2013 UM.

    One quick question: how do we allow for transfers to Exchange auto-attendants? I’m able to get it to transfer over but it just disconnects immediately. I arbitrarily chose 8222 as the access number and I’m using the same extension scheme as you did.

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