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Witness Server Warning Message When Using Certain Database Availability Group Tasks


i-away

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Recently, some customers reported that when they create a DAG, they get a
warning message that states the following:



The Exchange Trusted Subsystem is not

a member of the local Administrators group on specified witness server

<ServerName>.


In these cases, the customer’s intended witness server was not an Exchange
2010 server. As documented in TechNet, if the witness server you specify isn't an Exchange
2010 server, you must add the Exchange Trusted Subsystem (ETS) universal
security group (USG) to the local Administrators group on the witness server.
These security permissions are necessary to ensure that Exchange can create a
directory and share on the witness server as needed.


After some inspection, the customers confirmed that, contrary to the error
message, the ETS USG was a member of the local administrators group on their
intended witness server. Moreover, even though this warning appeared, there
were no ill effects in functionality. The directory and share on the witness
server were created as needed, the file share witness cluster resource was
online, and the DAG passed all replication health checks.


After hearing about this, I went to my lab to test this, and I was able to
reproduce the issue. I added the ETS USG to the local administrators group on
my witness server (a Windows 2008 file server) and ran
New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup, specifying my witness server. I received the
same warning message, and verified that despite the message, all was perfectly
healthy with the DAG, and there were no permission problems, witness server or
cluster problems or other issues.


Even though it appeared as though this warning message could be safely
ignored, I wondered why we were getting it in the first place. So I went
digging into the source code to find out.


Let me describe what is happening and why you, too, can safely ignore the
warning message.


During various DAG-related tasks that configure witness server properties
(namely, New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup, Set-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup and
Restore-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup), the code is actually checking to see if the
witness server is a member of the Exchange Trusted Subsystem USG.


As you may know, there is no requirement that the witness server be a
member of the ETS USG
. Nonetheless, the code for these tasks does check for
this, and if it finds that the witness server is not a member of the ETS USG, it
issues a warning message.


Unfortunately, to confuse things even more, the warning message says:



The Exchange Trusted Subsystem is not

a member of the local Administrators group on specified witness server

<ServerName>.


It says nothing about the witness server not being a member of the ETS USG,
even though the code is checking for that. Instead, it makes it appear as
though the permission perquisites have not been satisfied, even though they
actually have.


But, even though the message does not pertain to the actual check that
failed, that does not make this a string bug. This is a code bug, as there is
no requirement that the witness server be a member of the ETS USG. Thus, the
code should not be checking for this condition. If this bug is fixed and the
check is removed, the string will be removed with it. Unless and until that
happens, if you are seeing this warning message
when you are using any of the above-mentioned tasks, and you have verified that
the ETS USG is a member of the local administrators group on your witness
server, then you can likely safely ignore the warning message
.
You should run Test-ReplicationHealth to verify
the health of the DAG once members have been added to it.


Because we are doing this check in code, you can of course add the witness
server to the ETS group, and also make the ETS group a member of the local
administrators group on the witness server, and all of these tasks will complete
without this warning message. But, don't do that in production because (1) it
is not needed
and (2) it gives the witness server way more permissions
than it should ever have
(unless of course, the witness server is an
Exchange 2010 server).

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