Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Design
I think we can finally say, after 2 ½ years and a new version on its way, that Exchange 2010 is stable. I say this rather “tongue-in-cheek” as I believe that Exchange 2010 has been stable for quite a while now. Part of the reason that companies have not migrated to Exchange 2010 is that Exchange 2010 has quite a bit of flexibility in the architecture which allows freedom in designing a solution that meets a company’s needs. Translated a different way, Exchange 2010 is not as rigid in terms of the choices you had in designing a messaging solution and therefore it is essential to ensure that there is a valid architecture. This new found freedom had delayed migration to Exchange 2010 as companies are wanting to ensure their architectures are correct. This blog is an introduction to a tool that can help companies validate their architecture of the mailbox server role.
The Exchange 2010 Mailbox server role is arguably one of the most important roles within an Exchange environment. The mailbox server role is responsible for the storage of all mailbox data and all public folders. This storage is accessed by every user on a daily basis. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that the architecture of the mailbox server role provides the correct amount of scalability, stability, and security.
With Exchange 2010 you can deploy a solution that leverages mailbox resiliency and has multiple database copies deployed across datacenters, implements single item recovery for data recovery, and has the flexibility in storage design to allow you to deploy on storage area networks utilizing fibre-channel or SATA class disks or on direct attached storage utilizing SAS or SATA class disks with or without RAID protection. But, in order to design your solution, you need to understand the following criteria:
User profile – the message profile, the mailbox size, and the number of users
High availability architecture – the number of database copies you plant to deploy, whether the solution will be site resilient, the desired number of mailbox servers
Server’s CPU platform
Storage architecture – the disk capacity / type and storage solution
Backup architecture – whether to use hardware or software VSS and the frequency of the backups, or leverage the Exchange native data protection features
Network architecture – the utilization, throughput, and latency aspects
Once you have an understanding of the items above, you can build your design of Exchange 2010. After you have determined the design you would like to implement, you can follow the steps in the Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Design Example article within the Exchange 2010 Online Help to calculate your solution’s CPU, memory, and storage requirements. Finally, before you go to implement your design, you should validate your design. For this, I highly recommend using the Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator.
The Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator allows you to input all the relevant data for your specific design. The calculator will then generate what you need within your Exchange 2010 design in order to achieve your goals and to meet your requirements. One note about the calculator and about Exchange design in general. There are a large number of important design factors that need to be accounted for within your Exchange design. Many of these are accounted for within the calculator. The more factors you address within the calculator – the more accurate the Exchange design will be for your environment.
If you need help understanding each of the factors you can look at the notes within the calculator to explain them or you can contact PEI. We can help you with understanding the factors as well as with the overall Exchange design.