Exchange storage for 70 user !!!

Posted on 2006-10-30
Last Modified: 2010-03-06
Hi everyonne !

Here is the situation, i need to setup an exchange server for 40 inside users and 30 outside (owa). i am at the phase that i am planning for storage and i was wondering if i really needed to separate everything on two or three disk sub system. Do i really have to this or : 3, 15000k scsi disk in a raid 5 config with 4 gig of ram is fast enough for 80 users ?
Question by:hifive007
LVL 95

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 17836809
People seem to love to think that a few dozen users is all an Exchange server can handle unless it's super powerful, quad processor, RAID 10, behemoth of a system.

At one of the companies I used to work for, we had 400 users on a SINGLE 500 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, single 50 GB disk server... and didn't have any complaints (mind you, we SHOULD have had RAID, but didn't on that one box).

Point being, even though Exchange 2003 is a more resource hungry system, I would not expect any issues from a server with 1 GB of RAM, a single HT or dual Core processor, and a relatively small RAID 5 or a RAID 1.  Can you get better performance using better equipment... sure... will anyone notice?  I doubt it.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 17836940
Hi hifive007,

In my experience, the biggest limiting factor in an exchange system is the disk access speed. Any reasonable modern CPU of a P4 class above 2.4GhHZ and 1 GB ram should be enough. Faster disks with a RAID10 configuration are probably better for larger systems, but RAID 5 with standard disks should be OK for your setup. Obviously, better specs and faster disks can improve things for a larger system.

Once you get to 4GB of ram, remember to add the /3GB switch to the windows boot.ini file to improve memory performance.

Good Luck,

LVL 104

Expert Comment

ID: 17837021
With the current version of Exchange, you can run a large number of users on very small hardware. I have sites with 200 plus users on 1gb of RAM and a single Zeon processor. You can throw more processors and RAM at Exchange, but it will not use it. Exchange 2007 changes that, but that isn't released yet.

As the others have indicated already, the major bottleneck for an Exchange server is storage. If you have a choice between spending on raw power (RAM/Processor) and hard drives and storage, go for storage every time. That is where you will see the most benefit.

With 80 users, at a bare minimum I would be looking to use at least two arrays - a mirrored array for the OS/Apps and transaction logs and a RAID 5 array for the database. If the budget will stretch, then three arrays - mirrored for the OS/Apps, Mirrored array for the logs and RAID 5 for the database. The mirrored arrays can be the smallest hard disks you can get (72gb will be fine), the RAID 5 should be at least 72gb, preferably higher for long term growth.

When scaling, try and get enough space so that you could restore the entire database. Therefore if you are purchasing standard edition of Exchange, it can go to 75gb, so try and get at least 150gb of usable space at a minimum on the RAID 5 array. Don't forget to include public folders, so you will need at least 200gb of usable space.

If you are purchasing Enterprise edition, then split the database up and try and keep them below around 60gb each, with 60gb free space so that you can restore data if required.

With the number of remote users you have, the next performance benefit is a frontend server. You are quite away from that, but it is something to consider. A frontend server can be quite low end - I built them on HP DL 320s with 2 hard disks, single processor and 1gb of RAM and they have been fine. One of those is supporting over 200 users remotely without breaking in to a sweat.

To summarise - storage is your key winner here. Give Exchange some decent storage performance and she will fly.

Oh and on a member server, not a domain controller... but you knew that.


Author Comment

ID: 17837091
thank's to you all !!!  

those are really helpfull comments i gave the point to leew cause he was the first to give me a answer, but you all gave me a part of the complete picture.....thank's again !!!

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