How to.. Simplify Outlook Web App access using Exchange Server 2013

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In Today’s post we are going over the process to simplify Outlook Web App (OWA) access to our end-users.

Exchange Server 2013 by default already performs all the hard work for us when an user tries https://servername because it will redirect automatically to https://servername/owa.

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In this post we are going to use a single Exchange Server 2013 (TOEX15-01) and I went ahead before writing this post and created an entry webmail.andersonpatricio.ca in my internal DNS (I’m using split-brain DNS) pointing out to my Exchange Server 2013.

Before going any further, we can tackle this situation in several ways however I would like to point out two: Load Balancers and our old friend IIS.

Using Load Balancers..

If you are a larger environment and are using a Load Balancer either Virtual or Hardware you can configure it at the Load Balancer level. If you do that from the Exchange perspective all requests will be reaching https://servername/owa and there won’t be any requests on the 80 port on our CAS servers.  If you can use it, please do it because then you don’t have to configure anything on your Exchange Server 2013.

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Using IIS…

If you don’t have a Load Balancer and you try to access http://webmail.andersonpatricio.ca (that is my DNS entry pointing out to my Exchange Server 2013) you will receive an error message similar to the one shown below.

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In order to redirect the HTTP (80 port) to our right address, we can create an Error Page that has the redirection action built-in and these are the main steps:

  1. Open IIS
  2. Expand Sites and click on Default Web Site
  3. Double click on Error pages icon on located on the right side

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  1. Then click on Add… on the right side (Toolbox Actions)
  2. In the new window, type 403.4 on the first field which is the error code displayed in our previous test using http://<server-name>, and select Respond with a 302 redirect and then type in the address of you OWA (using HTTPS and /OWA to make things easier), click OK.

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In order to refresh the configuration you can run an IISReset.

Note: Even if you are testing locally, do not use localhost on the Absolute URL field.

We are golden! Just type in http://servername and voilà we will have the redirection working which means that your users just need to memorize your DNS like webmail.andersonpatricio.ca but they don’t have to remember /owa or if it is HTTP or HTTPS.

Written by Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio is a Canadian MVP in Cloud and Datacenter Management, and Office Server and Services, besides the Microsoft Award he also holds a Solutions Master (MCSM) in Exchange and several other certifications. Anderson has been contributing to the Microsoft Community with articles, tutorials, blog posts, twitter, forums and book reviews. He is a regular contributor here at ITPROCentral.com, MSExchange.org, Techgenix.com and Anderson Patricio.org (Portuguese).

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