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Troubleshooter: Selecting Hardware for a Test Cluster

We want to set up a test cluster for Exchange Server. Does our cluster hardware absolutely need to be on the Microsoft Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)?

In a word, yes. The HCL, which is available at, lists combinations of computers and storage equipment that Microsoft has certified as working together. If you encounter a clustering problem and call Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS), they have no immediate way to tell what's causing the problem: It might be broken hardware, but it could also be a subtle interaction between two components that haven't been tested for proper function in clustered environments. You might be able to get away with non-HCL components in a test cluster, but to avoid future problems, stick with the HCL when you purchase hardware for your production cluster.

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