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Exchange server recomendations

I am looking for some advise from the experts. We use Microsoft Exchange 2000 right now and we have 1 single server that has about 180 mailboxes on the server now. We are looking at upgrading our exchange envoiroment to 2003 and I need some help with what to do. We have some money to throw at this project and our company is dependent on email. I am looking at doing a Front end/Back end setup, or would it be better to go with a 2 server cluster? Or just do a single server setup and make the one server very powerfull.

Any Advise would be great.
2 Solutions
I just finished a Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 Enterprise to Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 Enterprise migration.

We chose to go with a front-end/dual back-end solution. Front-end handles OWA and is the SMTP gateway. Back-ends handle the mailboxes which are split evenly across those two servers and both of them are public folder servers. Two storage groups broken down into eight information stores split up alphabetically so that we can perform "offline maintenance" without disrupting the entire organization. Our information store was 260gb, after migration it was 185gb. Since we were unable to perform an offline defrag on the information stores we had accumulated 75gb worth of garbage.

In addition to all of this we are implementing Symantec KVS Vault to archive the mail off to our cheaper network storage.

If you have the budget put aside for this project go ahead and grab a Dell 1650 (Front), two Dell 2650s (Back) and have fun. Depending on your storage needs you may even be able to get by with 1650s for your back ends as well.
You have actually missed all the information to advise accordingly.

180 mailboxes - but how big?
I have clients with 100 mailboxes and a store pushing 100gb. I also have clients with 300 mailboxes and the store is less than 40gb.

Do you need the very high uptime that the cluster brings? Make sure that you ask the right people. Most companies can tolerate a period of downtime, so don't need the additional cost, specialist hardware and training of a cluster.

What is your message flow like? Do you have peak use or spread out?
Do you have many remote users? What sort of percentage? 10%, 70%?

180 users will easily go on to a single server with average mailbox sizes (1gb).
Exchange is heavy on storage requirements, not performance. You can get away with dual processor and 2gb of RAM very easily. What you shouldn't save on is hard disks and RAID controllers. That is where you will see the best performance gains.

As for a frontend server - that depends on your remote user levels.

More information is required about your environment.


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