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Exchange cluster hardware and design

Posted on 2006-06-26
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Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Hi All,

I will be shortly planning and building an exchange cluster for approximately 2000 users.

I would like to provide hot failover so am looking along the SAN cluster model.

Were looking at a budget of around £8000 for the SAN initially, then about a further £17000 for the servers

Here is my current thinking on the project

The current hardware I am looking at is a HP MSA 1500 controller

This will be a raid5 array for the datastore (expandable as needs be) and either raid10 or 01 for transaction logging comprising of six disks to provide performance,

This will then be the shared datastore for four main servers and a hotfailover one.

Basically, Im asking you to review the above, provide other solutions, give comments on selected hardware, raid configuration etc., whether this would scale well (we`d like a good user experience and provide future proofing up to at least 3000 users)
Any views at all, have intially put up 500 points for this question and will share points based on how useful replies were.

Thanks in advance for any replies

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Question by:A4eIT
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 16982855
Ahh, sorry about that, was not aware.
500 it is then.
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Expert Comment

by:msghaleb
ID: 16985366
I would recommend DELL Servers and EMC storage, to be honest I worked with HP and Dell, there is very big diffrence in the support, Dell support is far better.

on the Technical side, I would recomend 4 servers, 2 active and 2 passive, so you will have 2 virtual exchange servers everyone is holding 50% of the mailboxes.

Thanks
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 16990495
So you would recommend no shared storage and each server having its own failover?
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Expert Comment

by:msghaleb
ID: 16990514
No for sure not!

If you read my comment I'm mentioned EMC storage, I think you can buy it from Dell as well.
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 16990566
Sorry, just wanted to clarify that
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 16990635
>I would recomend 4 servers, 2 active and 2 passive, so you will have 2 virtual exchange servers everyone is holding 50% of the mailboxes.
Sorry for a silly question but why would you recommend this over three active, one passive, is it purely for redundancy?
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Expert Comment

by:msghaleb
ID: 16990814
Sure, you can use 3 Active and 1 Passive, 1000 mailboxes per server.

It's all depends on what you need.

I would like also to inform you that Exchange 2007 will support replication as a lite version of cluster, and it will provide cluster as well.

In your case you would 100% go for the cluster option as it provide more availability.

If you need more information and advices about the Hardware spics and the models, please inform me which brand will you go for (HP or Dell) and I can advice you from my point of view which HW spics is suitable.
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 17029746
Hi,

Thanks for reply,

I am not too set on a brand yet, more finalizing config.

I think I will go for the full clustering model.

I was initially thinking to have all transaction logs on one 6 disk raid 10 partition and all data on one raid 5 array but have recently been advised that it would be better to have seperate partitions on the SAN, that is 4 raid 5 arrays for data, and 4 raid 1 arrays for transaction logs, would you agree with this?

What could I expect to scale to on the above spec (HP MSA 1500) if I were to use this, what would the bottleneck be?

Thanks for answers so far, have been useful.
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Expert Comment

by:msghaleb
ID: 17168018
No bottle necks expected from this configuration, for 2000 users that's more than fine.
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Author Comment

by:A4eIT
ID: 17174721
>I was initially thinking to have all transaction logs on one 6 disk raid 10 partition and all data on one raid 5 array but have recently been advised that it would be >better to have seperate partitions on the SAN, that is 4 raid 5 arrays for data, and 4 raid 1 arrays for transaction logs, would you agree with this?

Is this statement correct (that it is better to use seperate arrays rather than one large one, thinking about it i suppose it would be better to do it this way.
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Accepted Solution

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msghaleb earned 500 total points
ID: 17174969
I would recommend the 2nd option as well, RAID 5 is the optimum for the Database and RAID 1 is the optimum for the transaction logs, however designing the Exchange information store as well is important, if you divide your users on diffrent stores depending on the spicific policy that would affect the perfomace, spicialy when you need to backup or restore.
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