Adding IMAP4 Virtual Server to Cluster takes cluster group offline

by Bharat Suneja

You’ve just built a shiny new Windows Server 2003 cluster, installed Exchange Server 2003, created an Exchange Virtual Server (EVS) and tested MAPI, HTTP, Cluster Failover, et al – things look great!

User calls, can’t access mail on new EVS using IMAP4.

When you create the Exchange Virtual Server by creating the System Attendant resource in Cluster Admin, the IMAP4 and POP3 servers are not created automatically (unlike Exchange 2000) because “Exchange Server 2003 is designed to comply with the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing initiative” according to KB818480 – which is all good.

And here’s when you have a fleeting moment of monumental stupidity – YOU DON’T READ THE KNOWLEDGEBASE ARTICLE COMPLETELY! (contrary to public opinion, many KB articles are in fact quite accurate, provide the complete solution, and help you avoid making blunders).

And here’s what happens when you don’t do that… :

You go ahead and try to create the IMAP4 virtual server resource in Cluster Admin. IMAP4 virtual server created successfully. Wonderful! All that’s left is right-click, bring resource online.

And DISASTER! (Don’t try this on a production box.. :)

This brings down your entire EVS. Goes offline. You hope it’s once, to initialize the IMAP4 virtual server perhaps. Comes back online. Great! Goest back offline. Oh noooo… ! Flip flops between offline and online… mom, look what I did to the Exchange cluster! :)

Bottomline, the flip-flopping goes on. You can’t delete the IMAP4 VS if it’s in transition (Offline pending, Online). At the right time – just when it goes online and before any other resource goes offline, you hit delete and the resource is deleted. And investigate.

What’s wrong? The IMAP4 service is set to DISABLED by default. The Application Event Log will show you 3 errors:

Event ID: 1009

| Source: MsExchangeCluster | Description: IMAP Virtual Server (MAILBOX): Failed to start the service ‘IMAP4SVC’ because it has been disabled. Check the Services manager to change its startup type.
Event ID: 1010 | Source: MSExchangeCluster | Description: IMAP Virtual Server (MAILBOX): Failed to start the service ‘IMAP4SVC’.
Event ID: 1003 | Source: MSExchangeCluster | Description: IMAP Virtual Server (MAILBOX): Failed to bring the resource online.Resolution: Set the IMAP4 service on all nodes to MANUAL (not AUTOMATIC).

Now bring back the Exchange Virtual Server online. Comes online. Stable.

Test IMAP4 access – telnet to port 143. It works!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous June 15, 2007 at 2:53 am

thanks for this, pity i didnt find it BEFORE i crashed our cluster!!! DOH!!!


Orv Curry January 23, 2008 at 3:41 am

wow that was a good test of the cluster fail-over!! Thanks for the tip.


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