Recommendations for small VMware/Exchange configuration

A client is planning on bringing their outsourced email configuration in-house.  Most designs that I see are large to very large.  This design is for a small configuration of 100 users with a few 1000 inbound messages and a few hundred outbound messages daily.  High availability and reliability are critical, however.

This will be a new system, so all equipment and software will be purchased and current.

Can someone provide me recommedations for a minimal VMware/Exchange configuration that still provides availability and reliability?  

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The exact type of DR, HA, FT type system that best meets your customer's needs will mostly be based on budget. You can run Exchg 2010 and have high availability. But, you also need to have virtual HA, meaning ESX/ESXi host-level. You can still do so with Exchg 2K7 and vSphere features, but the 1st question is 'what is the budget for this implementation?'

RGRodgersAuthor Commented:
I am working on producing the design so that we can develop the budget and get approval.
Hmm...well, you can achieve HA with Exchg 2010 in a form of a cluster, but not necessarily traditional MSCS (though my understanding is that it uses the same underlying technology as MSCS). If you go with Exchg 2K7, MCSC would have to be the way to go. Now that's just software HA. For vSphere HA, you need a minimum of 2 hosts, connected to shared storage. HA & FT would more than likely be what you're after there; see pg. 11 & 33 of the Availability Guide:

As far as infrastructure, it sounds like this is a pretty small site? So, you probably won't need more than 2, 3 hosts at the most at least in the immediate future (over the next few yrs)?..correct? If that is the case, you can get the vSphere Essentials Plus Kit for about $4000US (prob cheaper via reseller: You need at least that 'edition' for the HA feature-set you're needing:

So, your costs would be:
1. min of 2 hosts/servers, RAM (recommend a min of 24GB per host
2. vSphere "Kit"
3. Exchg cost - licensing/CALs
4. Storage


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RGRodgersAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the help!  In terms of the Exchange 2010 configuration, how does this look?

We’d need two virtual servers for CAS/HT.  Putting the Mailbox servers in a virtual environment is possible, but is being questioned.  Due to the very low load in this environment, we should go ahead and do it.  If so, we’d need two mailbox servers in a DAG.  We would need two physical servers for this environment with each having a CAS/HT/MBX configuration.  

Make sense?  Thanks...RG
Yep...that looks correct. Who questions putting the MBX role virtually? It's been 'approved' since shortly after 2K7 came out, unless there's something much different with 2010 that I'm not aware of? But, what you have looks good...

RGRodgersAuthor Commented:
I noted discussions about it here in EE, actually.  Thanks again for your help...RG
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