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VMWare ESXi as disaster recovery for Exchange 2007 with iSCSI

ok let me try to explain this.

We have multiple servers in our organization.  We are trying to develop a disaster recovery plan that incorporates VMWare ESXi.  The server that we are concerned about is our Exchange 2007 server.  Our exchange database/datastore is situated on our iSCSI SAN and appears locally under c:\data volume\...  We want to use Symantec System Recovery 8.5 with granular option to backup this server.  The reason we want to do this is because we can convert our backup to a VM in the event of a disaster and load it on our ESXi server.

Here are my questions...
1- When we do a backup with SSR 8.5 will it include the c:\data volume directory as being local even though it's on the SAN? will the VM work with the local data once restored?
2- Other scenario, if we restore our Exchange server to VM can we connect to the iSCSI and point back to our Exchange datastore on it?  If so, would I only need to add a iSCSI compatible card to my ESXi server?
3- If users have their Outlook opened when Exchange crashes (and cached mode is turned on).  If we restore an older copy of the exchange datastore will the new e-mails on the users workstation get synchronized back to Exchange or do they simply stay in their OST files locally?
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Rosspope
Asked:
Rosspope
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1 Solution
 
kumarnirmalCommented:
I suggest in that case that you try n+1 cluster config.

One Server will be a physical Server running Exchange, another Server will be running as a VM in an ESX Host.
Make sure that both the Servers are able to access the iSCSI LUN.

I feel this would give you better redundancy.
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RosspopeAuthor Commented:
This would give better redundancy but it would not allow me to have an offsite backup.

How hard would it be to setup a n+1 cluster config?  Would both servers point to the same datastore on the iSCSI?
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aldanchCommented:
If you're imaging with System Recovery then it will restore the data\volumes as if it were local. Remember that with iSCSI, your Windows servers is tricked into thinking that your LUN is local. Therefore if you image and restore it, it will be local (make sure you have enough disk space to restore).
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Granular recovery for Microsoft Exchange

With Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange you can choose the Exchange Servers and restore points you’re interested in, and Veeam Explorer will present the contents of those mailbox stores for browsing, searching and exporting.

 
aldanchCommented:
If you're looking to reduce downtime then consider Teneros's Application Continuity Appliances (http://www.teneros.com/). It's basically a server that is designed to mirror your Exchange server and failover in the event your Exchange server goes down. Once you Exchange server is restored (via System Recovery), then you can initiate a failback and update the Exchange server with messages that it missed why being down.
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RosspopeAuthor Commented:
aldanch -> Thanks for the confirmation that Windows is being tricked as thinking the folder is local.

I'm just wondering how I can go back from my VM to physical (afterwards).  Because if I use SSR8.5 to backup, the server fails and I restore SSR backup to VM.  Once my server is back operational (if it was hardware related) how can I go back from virtual to physical?  If I do a straight conversion it will put it on the local disk and not the iSCSI.

Other scenario, in the event of a disaster, if I convert to VM, can I tell my VM to point to the iSCSI to access the exchange datastore?

Also, If users have their Outlook opened when Exchange crashes (and cached mode is turned on).  If we restore an older copy of the exchange datastore will the new e-mails on the users workstation get synchronized back to Exchange or do they simply stay in their OST files locally?
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kumarnirmalCommented:
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kumarnirmalCommented:
Setting up clustering initially is not always a simple task.
I found this to be of some help though - http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Installing-Configuring-Testing-Exchange-2007-Cluster-Continuous-Replication-Based-Mailbox-Server-Part3.html
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